A social model for health promotion for an aging population: initial evidence on the Experience Corps model

J Urban Health. 2004 Mar;81(1):64-78. doi: 10.1093/jurban/jth094.


This report evaluates whether a program for older volunteers, designed for both generativity and health promotion, leads to short-term improvements in multiple behavioral risk factors and positive effects on intermediary risk factors for disability and other morbidities. The Experience Corps(R) places older volunteers in public elementary schools in roles designed to meet schools' needs and increase the social, physical, and cognitive activity of the volunteers. This article reports on a pilot randomized trial in Baltimore, Maryland. The 128 volunteers were 60-86 years old; 95% were African American. At follow-up of 4-8 months, physical activity, strength, people one could turn to for help, and cognitive activity increased significantly, and walking speed decreased significantly less, in participants compared to controls. In this pilot trial, physical, cognitive, and social activity increased, suggesting the potential for the Experience Corps to improve health for an aging population and simultaneously improve educational outcomes for children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged / physiology
  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baltimore
  • Cognition
  • Faculty*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Motor Activity
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools*
  • Social Support*
  • Volunteers / psychology*
  • Workforce