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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2016 Jul;71(4):661-70. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbv005. Epub 2015 Feb 25.

The Baltimore Experience Corps Trial: Enhancing Generativity via Intergenerational Activity Engagement in Later Life.

Author information

  • 1Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
  • 2Department of Community-Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 3Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York.
  • 4Departments of Mental Health and Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 5Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 6Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 7American Institutes for Research, Washington, District of Columbia.
  • 8Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.



Being and feeling generative, defined as exhibiting concern and behavior to benefit others, is an important developmental goal of midlife and beyond. Although a growing body of evidence suggests mental and physical health benefits of feeling generative in later life, little information exists as to the modifiability of generativity perceptions. The present study examines whether participation in the intergenerational civic engagement program, Experience Corps (EC), benefits older adults' self-perceptions of generativity.


Levels of generativity were compared in older adults randomized to serve as EC volunteers or controls (usual volunteer opportunities) in the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial at 4-, 12-, and 24-month evaluation points over the 2-year trial. Analyses utilized intention-to-treat and complier average causal effects (CACE) analyses which incorporate degree of intervention exposure in analytic models.


Participants randomized to the EC group had significantly higher levels of generative desire and perceptions of generative achievement than controls at each follow-up point; CACE analyses indicate a dose-response effect with a greater magnitude of intervention effect with greater exposure to the EC program.


Results provide the first-ever, large-scale experimental demonstration that participation in an intergenerational civic engagement program can positively alter self-perceptions of generativity in older adulthood.


Civic engagement; Generativity; Intergenerational; Randomized controlled trial; Social engagement; Volunteerism

[Available on 2017-07-01]
[PubMed - in process]
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