Improving attitudes to volunteering among older adults: A randomized trial approach
Research on Aging
Exercise Medicine Research Institute
Australian Research Council.
ARC Number : DP140100365
Promoting engagement in formal volunteering represents a potential means of facilitating healthy aging. Given reluctance to participate in volunteering has been partially attributed to negative perceptions of various aspects of this activity, this study assessed whether trialing volunteering can improve perceptions among older people. Using a parallel-group design, Australians aged 60+ years (n = 445) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, one in which they were encouraged to trial volunteering and one in which they were asked to continue their usual activities. Perceptions and attitudes among those in the volunteering condition became significantly more favorable over 6 months relative to those in the control condition, with this change predicted by several aspects of the volunteering experience (e.g., acquisition of skills, increased social connectedness). Providing access to roles that cater to the learning and social needs of older adults appears to be important for improving attitudes toward engaging in volunteer work.