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Intergenerational programs improve attitudes, behaviours, and quality of life of children and older adults

Giraudeau C, Bailly N. Intergenerational programs: What can school-age children and older people expect from them? A systematic review European Journal of Ageing. 2019; 1-14.

Review question

      What are the benefits of intergenerational programs for children and older adults?


      An intergenerational program involves ongoing and organized interactions between members of younger and older age groups for the benefit of all participants.

      They generally arise from practical concerns about strengthening social cohesion, creating links between generations, and setting up and encouraging community initiatives.

      This systematic review examines the literature to better understand intergenerational programs and their benefits for both children and older adults.

How the review was done

      A comprehensive literature search was conducted in major social science bibliographic databases, including PsycINFO, MedLine, and PubMed.

      Additional articles were searched by exploring references from retrieved publications.

      The searches were carried out using a variety of key words, including: intergenerational, children, elderly, and aging.

      A total of 60 English-language articles were retrieved from the initial search and 11 were selected for inclusion in the final review.

      This research was supported by the EA-2114 Psychologie des âges de la vie (Francois-Rabelais University).

What the researchers found

      Of the 11 included studies, three were identified as “educational programs”, three were “artistic programs” with interaction through music and reading, one was organized “around a citizen’s project”, one promoted a “health program”, and three involved “open-ended activities.”

      Seven of the 11 studies were conducted in the USA, three in Japan, and one in Israel.

      Results indicate that children had more positive attitudes toward the older people and understood them better after participation in an intergenerational program. Other studies further revealed that children benefited from discovering that they could be good teachers.

      Four of nine studies found that intergenerational programs had a positive effect on older adults. These positive effects included the perception of a greater sense of meaningfulness and manageability, increased empowerment, more positive views of children, and increased the frequency of their communication with children.


      Concerning the benefits of intergenerational programs for children and older adults, some studies highlighted significant differences in positive attitudes, behaviors, confidence, and competence for the children, in mental and physical health, and quality of life for older adults. It should be noted, however, that these benefits are not systematic.

Related Topics


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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