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.

Download full-text


Available from: Michelle C Carlson
  • Source
    • "Thus, curiosity and generative fulfillment messaging were successful messaging techniques. Generative fulfillment has been successful in other social marketing campaigns [23], and these findings extend this technique’s effectiveness to recruiting deaf individuals into health service research. Results also suggest that our secondary messaging indicating inclusion of the Deaf perspective would be an effective technique for specifically engaging ASL-users and that this messaging technique would be most effective via community events, organizations, and personal media. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing participants, particularly sign language-users, for genetics health service research is challenging due to communication barriers, mistrust toward genetics, and researchers' unfamiliarity with deaf people. Feelings of social exclusion and lack of social cohesion between researchers and the Deaf community are factors to consider. Social marketing is effective for recruiting hard-to-reach populations because it fosters social inclusion and cohesion by focusing on the targeted audience's needs. For the deaf population this includes recognizing their cultural and linguistic diversity, their geography, and their systems for information exchange. Here we use concepts and language from social marketing to evaluate our effectiveness to engage a U.S. deaf population in a prospective, longitudinal genetic counseling and testing study. The study design was interpreted in terms of a social marketing mix of Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Price addressed linguistic diversity by including a variety of communication technologies and certified interpreters to facilitate communication; Place addressed geography by including community-based participation locations; Promotion addressed information exchange by using multiple recruitment strategies. Regression analyses examined the study design's effectiveness in recruiting a culturally and linguistically diverse sample. 271 individuals were enrolled, with 66.1% American Sign Language (ASL)-users, 19.9% ASL + English-users, 12.6% English-users. Language was significantly associated with communication technology, participation location, and recruitment. Videophone and interpreters were more likely to be used for communication between ASL-users and researchers while voice telephone and no interpreters were preferred by English-users (Price). ASL-users were more likely to participate in community-based locations while English-users preferred medically-based locations (Place). English-users were more likely to be recruited through mass media (Promotion) while ASL-users were more likely to be recruited through community events and to respond to messaging that emphasized inclusion of a Deaf perspective. This study design effectively engaged the deaf population, particularly sign language-users. Results suggest that the deaf population's cultural and linguistic diversity, geography, and forms of information exchange must be taken into account in study designs for successful recruitment. A social marketing approach that incorporates critical social determinants of health provides a novel and important framework for genetics health service research targeting specific, and hard-to-reach, underserved groups.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · BMC Medical Research Methodology
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study reports the results of a pilot volunteer project for older Chinese immigrants and documents benefits for both volunteers and caregiver recipients. Using a social marketing approach, the volunteer project was designed as a social model to promote better health among older Chinese immigrants in New York City. The packaging of this health promotion project as a volunteer program was based on a strengths perspective. In the program, 18 older Chinese immigrants were trained to provide support and referral to family caregivers of ill relatives in the Chinese community. At 6 months, outcomes were evaluated for both volunteers and caregivers. The older volunteers perceived benefits associated with volunteering, specifically, a greater sense of well-being and satisfaction with life. In addition, the majority of volunteers felt empowered by training and volunteering (100 %), felt the skills they learned improved communication with their own families (90 %), and reported physical and emotional health benefits (61 %). At the same time, caregivers reported stress reduction following volunteer support. Findings suggest that a volunteer program model may be an effective health promotion intervention for older Chinese immigrants.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2013 · Ageing International
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Experience Corps® (EC) program is an innovative, community-based model for health promotion for older adults. Incorporating health promotion into new, generative roles for older adults, it brings the time, experience, and wisdom of older adults to bear to improve academic and behavioral outcomes of K-3 grade children in public elementary schools. The EC program is simultaneously designed to be a cost-effective, high-impact literacy support and social capital intervention for young children that doubles as a potentially powerful health promotion model aimed at improving the cognitive, physical, social, and psychological function of older adults and preventing disability and dependency associated with aging. In this program, older adult volunteers are placed in a critical mass in public elementary schools to perform standardized, meaningful roles developed by the program after selection by the schools’ principals as being critical unmet needs. In this chapter, we describe the development and major tenets of the EC model, the science underlying the model and data supporting the effectiveness of this intergenerational intervention for both older adults and children, and policy implications of social engagement programs like Experience Corps for long-term improvements in older adults’ health and well-being and practical guidelines for setting up an EC program in the local community.
    Full-text · Chapter · Dec 2010
Show more