Experience Corps: a dual trial to promote the health of older adults and children's academic success

Contemp Clin Trials. 2013 Sep;36(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2013.05.003. Epub 2013 May 13.


Background: As the population ages, older adults are seeking meaningful, and impactful, post-retirement roles. As a society, improving the health of people throughout longer lives is a major public health goal. This paper presents the design and rationale for an effectiveness trial of Experience Corps™, an intervention created to address both these needs. This trial evaluates (1) whether senior volunteer roles within Experience Corps™ beneficially impact children's academic achievement and classroom behavior in public elementary schools and (2) impact on the health of volunteers.

Methods: Dual evaluations of (1) an intention-to-treat trial randomizing eligible adults 60 and older to volunteer service in Experience Corps™, or to a control arm of usual volunteering opportunities, and (2) a comparison of eligible public elementary schools receiving Experience Corps™ to matched, eligible control schools in a 1:1 control:intervention school ratio.

Outcomes: For older adults, the primary outcome is decreased disability in mobility and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). Secondary outcomes are decreased frailty, falls, and memory loss; slowed loss of strength, balance, walking speed, cortical plasticity, and executive function; objective performance of IADLs; and increased social and psychological engagement. For children, primary outcomes are improved reading achievement and classroom behavior in Kindergarten through the 3rd grade; secondary outcomes are improvements in school climate, teacher morale and retention, and teacher perceptions of older adults.

Summary: This trial incorporates principles and practices of community-based participatory research and evaluates the dual benefit of a single intervention, versus usual opportunities, for two generations: older adults and children.

Keywords: BHS; Baltimore City Commission on Aging and Retirement Education; Brain Health Study; CARE; COAH; Children's academic success; Community-based participatory research; EC; Experience Corps™; GHCC; Greater Homewood Community Corporation; Health promotion; Healthy aging; IADL; Instrumental Activities of Daily Living; Intergenerational programs; Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health; MMSE; MSA; Maryland School Assessment; Mini-Mental State Exam; Senior service.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Community-Based Participatory Research / organization & administration*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Learning
  • Mental Processes
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Postural Balance
  • Research Design
  • Retirement / psychology
  • Schools / organization & administration*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Volunteers / organization & administration*
  • Volunteers / psychology