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Methodology

Description

In 2014, CNCS launched a longitudinal evaluation of its FGP and SCP programs, which consists of two studies. The Volunteer Study focused on FGP and SCP volunteers. The Caregiver Study focused on caregivers seeking Senior Companion respite services.

Survey Method - Volunteers

The volunteer study seeks to establish causal evidence of the impact of volunteering on self-reported health, functional status, depression, loneliness, and life satisfaction for low income seniors age 55 and older.  The study involves surveying participants at entrance into the program (baseline) and at one and two year follow-up points.   The caregiver study seeks to establish the impact of respite services on caregivers of SCP clients.  New caregivers who have not previously received respite services were surveyed prior to respite care and at a one year follow-up point.

The Volunteer Study recruited adults who were first-time volunteers with FGP or SCP between July and November 2015.  All Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions who had not previously volunteered with Senior Corps and who completed the application process were eligible to enroll in the study.

Baseline enrollment into the study occurred in two stages. In the first stage; grantees were provided with training and assistance on how to enroll participants into the study.  In the second stage, volunteers who agreed to participate in the study received a survey packet which included a consent form and the survey. Participants were provided a prepaid envelope to return their surveys directly to JBS.  Participants received a $20 honorarium for completing each survey.

Data collection for the first follow-up occurred from September to November 2016. Volunteers who completed the baseline survey were eligible to participate in the first follow-up study. 

Of the 1,424 volunteers who returned the baseline survey, a sample of 1,233 were found to be eligible for inclusion in the analysis.  Of these, 1089 completed the first follow-up survey, however, after cleaning the data the final sample for the analysis discussed in this report consisted of 989 volunteers, representing an 80% response rate. Of these volunteers, 71 percent were Foster Grandparents and 29 percent were Senior Companions.

Caregivers:

Data collection for the baseline survey occurred from July to November 2015. Caregivers who were seeking respite services for the first time during the enrollment period were eligible to participate in the study.

The Caregiver Study uses a pre/post design with a baseline and one follow-up. The baseline survey was administered to caregivers before they start to receive respite services; the follow-up survey will take place 9 to12 months after the baseline survey.  Baseline enrollment of caregivers totaled 76 participants representing approximately 75% of the 102 eligible caregivers.

Instruments

The Survey of Foster Grandparents and Senior Companion Volunteers was adopted from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), developed by the University of Michigan; questions were also drawn from previous Senior Corps surveys.  The HRS is conducted by The University of Michigan and is a longitudinal panel study that surveys a representative sample of approximately 20,000 older Americans.  It is supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration.  It is administered every two years.

The baseline Caregiver Survey collects demographic and health information about caregivers including self-rated health, medical conditions, functional limitations, and symptoms of depression and social and emotional loneliness. The Caregiver Survey also collects information about the family member or friend the caregiver is providing care to (the care recipient), including caregiver’s relationship to the care recipient, the care recipient’s health and functional limitations, and the use of additional support services by the care recipients.

All instruments and survey collections processes were informed through consultation with a Field Working Group comprising State office and program staff and project specialists and by a Technical Working Group comprising health and aging researchers, and gerontologists.  The instruments and the method were cleared through IRB and OMB review.

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