Marketing public health through older adult volunteering: Experience Corps as a social marketing intervention

Am J Public Health. 2010 Apr;100(4):727-34. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.169151. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


Objectives: We present a social marketing conceptual framework for Experience Corps Baltimore City (EC) in which the desired health outcome is not the promoted product or behavior. We also demonstrate the feasibility of a social marketing-based recruitment campaign for the first year of the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial (BECT), a randomized, controlled trial of the health benefits of EC participation for older adults.

Methods: We recruited older adults from the Baltimore, MD, area. Participants randomized to the intervention were placed in public schools in volunteer roles designed to increase healthy behaviors. We examined the effectiveness of a recruitment message that appealed to generativity (i.e., to make a difference for the next generation), rather than potential health benefits.

Results: Among the 155 participants recruited in the first year of the BECT, the average age was 69 years; 87% were women and 85% were African American. Participants reported primarily generative motives as their reason for interest in the BECT.

Conclusions: Public health interventions embedded in civic engagement have the potential to engage older adults who might not respond to a direct appeal to improve their health.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Baltimore
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Social Marketing*
  • Social Welfare
  • Volunteers*