Volunteer Impact on Health-Related Outcomes for Seniors: a Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis

  • Ainsley Moore McMaster University
  • Shahrzad Motaghi McMaster University
  • Behnam Sadeghirad McMaster University
  • Housne Begum McMaster University
  • John J. Riva McMaster University, University of Toronto
  • Jessica Gaber McMaster University
  • Lisa Dolovich University of Toronto, McMaster University
Keywords: Volunteers, Geriatrics, Community

Abstract

Background

Volunteers are increasingly promoted to improve health-related outcomes for community-dwelling elderly without synthesized evidence for effectiveness. This systematic review and meta-analysis evaluates the effects of unpaid volunteer interventions on health-related outcomes for such seniors.

Methods

MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane (CENTRAL) were searched up to November 2018. We included English lan­guage, randomized trials. Two reviewers independently identi­fied studies, extracted data, and assessed evidence certainty (using GRADE). Meta-analysis used random-effects models. Univariate meta-regressions investigated the relationship between volunteer intervention effects and trial participant age, percentage females, and risk of bias.

Results

28 included studies focussed on seniors with a variety of chronic conditions (e.g., dementia, diabetes) and health states (e.g., frail, palliative). Volunteers provided a range of roles (e.g., counsel­lors, educators and coaches). Low certainty evidence found that volunteers may improve both physical function (MD = 3.2 points on the 100-point SF-36 physical component score [PCS]; 95% CI: 1.09, 5.27) and physical activity levels (SMD = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.14 to 0.83). Adverse events were not increased.

Conclusion

Volunteers may increase physical activity levels and subject­ive ratings of physical function for seniors without apparent harm. These findings support the WHO call to action on evidence-based policies to align health systems in support of older adults.

Author Biographies

Ainsley Moore, McMaster University

Department of Family Medicine

Shahrzad Motaghi, McMaster University
MSc Student, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI), 
Behnam Sadeghirad, McMaster University

The Michael G. DeGroote Institute of Pain Research and Care

Housne Begum, McMaster University

Department of Family Medicine

John J. Riva, McMaster University, University of Toronto

Department of Family Medicine, Health Evidence and Impact, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy

Jessica Gaber, McMaster University

Department of Family Medicine

Lisa Dolovich, University of Toronto, McMaster University

Department of Family Medicine, Health Evidence and Impact, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy 

Published
2021-02-18
How to Cite
Moore, A., Motaghi, S., Sadeghirad, B., Begum, H., Riva, J. J., Gaber, J., & Dolovich, L. (2021). Volunteer Impact on Health-Related Outcomes for Seniors: a Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis. Canadian Geriatrics Journal, 24(1), 44-72. https://doi.org/10.5770/cgj.24.434
Section
Systematic Reviews/Meta-analysis