Marketing Public Health Through Older Adult Volunteering: Experience Corps as a Social Marketing Intervention

Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 02/2010; 100(4):727-34. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.169151
Source: PubMed


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.
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.
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.
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.

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    • "From the descriptive data presented here, older Chinese volunteers felt empowered, and these benefits might be associated with increased self-esteem (having better sense of self and sense of purpose), improved self-efficacy (better communication and problem-solving skills), increased knowledge (caregiving experience, health information, time management, increased information and resources), and increased mental health and happiness (strengthened trusting relationships with other volunteers and caregivers as well as increased social bonding and social support among volunteers). These findings are consistent with the literature suggesting that volunteer engagement can be an effective social intervention for health promotion (Fried et al. 2004; Tan et al. 2010). It is the belief of this collaborative team that the Phone Angel Program will serve as a solid model for developing productive volunteer programs among older adults in different communities and regions. "
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