Evaluating the Impact of Senior Companion Programs

Last registered on May 05, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Evaluating the Impact of Senior Companion Programs
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009343
Initial registration date
May 04, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 05, 2022, 9:55 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
May 05, 2022, 2:50 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Notre Dame

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-05-02
End date
2025-12-01
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Nationwide, there are 1.5 million elderly who are homebound and another 1.5 million who do not leave their home without assistance. These individuals self-reported fair or poor health at three times the rate of non-homebound seniors and report having chronic conditions and hospital stays in the past year at two and three times the rates respectively of non-homebound seniors. Because interventions involving primary care can be hard to access and may lack the adequate capacity, social services providing in-person and in-house support are increasingly needed. Five different agencies located in Detroit, MI, southern Georgia, South Dakota, Niagara, NY, and Birmingham, AL, all operate senior companion programs (SCPs) in various locations across the United States. SCPs partner a local homebound senior with a volunteer in the community who will conduct weekly visits with them, help with meal preparation or deliveries, provide transportation, assist with simple housekeeping, and socialize with the client amongst other tasks. These services are directed towards helping the senior client continue living independently in their own home instead of moving into an assisted living or nursing home. This program is being evaluated via a randomized controlled trial. Approximately 1040 senior clients split across the five agencies involved in the project will be randomized between treatment and control over two years. Researchers will assess the impact of receiving a senior companion on self-reported loneliness and life satisfaction as well as independent living status for the senior client.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
evans, william and Sarah Kroeger. 2022. "Evaluating the Impact of Senior Companion Programs." AEA RCT Registry. May 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9343
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Senior Companion Programs (SCP) facilitate partnerships between community volunteers and local homebound seniors. Seniors served by the SCP will be provided with a companion who will conduct weekly visits with them, help with meal preparation or deliveries, provide transportation, assist with simple housekeeping, and socialize with the client amongst other tasks. These services are directed towards helping the senior client continue living independently in their own home instead of moving into an assisted living or nursing home.
Intervention Start Date
2022-05-02
Intervention End Date
2025-12-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Life Satisfaction
Life Stability
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Life Satisfaction
1. Isolation + Loneliness Scale: Baseline and follow-up survey scale asking whether the client feels lonely, feels like they have people who support them, etc.

Hypothesis: The intervention is designed to reduce the client’s feelings of loneliness and isolation. We will then test the hypothesis that there is no effect of the intervention on loneliness and we can conclude the intervention worked if we can reject the null if there is a positive and statistically significant decline in loneliness.

2. Overall Life Satisfaction: Baseline and follow-up survey asking where the client feels that his/her life is on a scale of one to ten

Hypothesis: The intervention is designed to increase the client’s overall life satisfaction. We will test the hypothesis that there is no effect of the intervention on life satisfaction and we can conclude the intervention worked if we can reject the null if there is a positive and statistically significant increase in overall life satisfaction.

Life Stability
1. Living independently - Primary Measure: Surveys indicate that the overwhelming majority of seniors want to age in place. We will measure independent living with survey data. We will define living independently as the client is living by themselves or with a spouse with no other adult in the household. Not living independently will include being in a nursing home or living with another adult such as a child.

Hypothesis: The intervention is designed to increase the amount of time a client can remain living independently. We will test the hypothesis that there is no effect of the intervention on independent living and we can conclude the intervention worked if we can reject the null if there is a positive and statistically significant increase in time spent living independently.

2. Mortality: We will measure mortality of clients in the study using the Social Security Administration’s Master Death File

Hypothesis: The intervention is designed to decrease mortality. We will test the hypothesis that there is no effect of the intervention on mortality and we can conclude the intervention worked if we can reject the null if there is a positive and statistically significant decrease in mortality.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Self reported physical and mental health status
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Self reported physical and mental health status from 6- and 18- month follow up surveys.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Clients will be consented at baseline application to the program. Clients on the waitlist for services will be randomly assigned to receive a companion or not when a new space in the program becomes available. All in the study will be surveyed 6- and 18-months post randomization.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
0
Sample size: planned number of observations
1040 people split across all five agencies
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
520 people in treatment, 520 in control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Assuming a baseline outcome rate of 32.5% (outcomes = respondent feels very good or excellent about 1) quality of life, 2) mental health, and 3) strength of social relationships), initial power calculations suggest that we will be able to measure a 12.3 pp effect on outcomes after one year of enrollment and a 9.07 pp effect after two years of enrollment. We anticipate that we will need to enroll for at least two years.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
The University of Notre Dame Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2022-04-27
IRB Approval Number
22-04-7161
Analysis Plan

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