Intergenerational volunteering and quality of life: Mixed methods evaluation of a randomized control trial involving persons with mild to moderate dementia

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Abstract

Purpose: This article reports on a mixed methods evaluation of a randomized control trial in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, that assessed whether an intergenerational volunteering intervention could enhance quality of life (QOL) for persons with mild to moderate dementia. Methods: Fifteen participants were randomized into intervention and control groups. The intervention group participated in hour-long volunteer sessions with a kindergarten class and an older elementary class in alternating weeks over a 5-month interval. Psychometric data on cognitive functioning, stress, depression, sense of purpose, and sense of usefulness were collected at baseline and at the close of the intervention, and change scores were computed and analyzed for all variables. Ethnography was carried out through the duration of the study, and narrative interviews were held with participants and caregivers. A modified grounded theory approach was used for qualitative analysis. Results: Quantitative analysis demonstrated a significant decrease in stress for the intervention group. Qualitative analysis identified three main pathways through which intergenerational volunteering affected QOL: perceived health benefits, sense of purpose and sense of usefulness, and relationships. Conclusions: Mixed methods evaluation demonstrated that intergenerational volunteering might enhance quality of life through several key pathways, most significantly reduced stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-995
Number of pages9
JournalQuality of Life Research
Volume20
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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