Intergenerational programs: What can school-age children and older people expect from them? A systematic review

Eur J Ageing. 2019 Jan 28;16(3):363-376. doi: 10.1007/s10433-018-00497-4. eCollection 2019 Sep.


Over the past 40 years, there has been a growing trend for intergenerational initiatives worldwide. Intergenerational programs (IGPs) aim to facilitate cooperation and exchange among different age groups. While most studies highlight the benefits for each generation, the programs and study designs vary widely. We conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature between 2005 and 2015 to: (1) characterize and define the IGPs studied and (2) identify the benefits for school-age children and older people aged 60 years or over. First, 53 articles with defined keywords were collected from online databases. Then, using inclusion and exclusion criteria, 11 articles were selected. These were classified according to methodological quality and were analyzed one by one. The content of the programs varied: three involved artistic activities, three educational activities, one health, three open-ended activities, and one was organized around a citizen's project. Concerning the benefits of IGPs for children and older adults, some studies highlighted significant differences in positive attitudes, behaviors, confidence, and competence for the children, and significant differences in mental and physical health, and quality of life for older adults. However, it should be noted that those benefits are not systematic. Our findings are discussed in the light of the meaningfulness of the activities and the role of IGPs, organization of the program, and participants' knowledge of the other generation. Future studies may wish to consider searching for additional variables to further refine our understanding of the benefits for participants.

Keywords: Benefits; Children; Intergenerational programs; Older adults; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review