Open Access Capstone
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
Background: Without accessible transportation alternatives, many older adults experience declined activity levels, social isolation, and decreased occupational engagement resulting from their lack of community mobility and access. Volunteer transportation programs have been successfully used as an additional community mobility option for many older adults, especially those unable to access the traditional public transportation options, such as buses or taxis, found in many communities.
Purpose: While numerous transportation options, or alternatives, may exist in a community, no studies to date have examined or compared engagement levels related to a specific form of alternative transportation. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to compare engagement levels between older adults with access to volunteer transportation and those without, while also examining the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their community mobility.
Theoretical Framework: The Person, Environment, Occupation, and Performance Model (PEOP) supports the construct that without accessible transportation options for community mobility, older adults may experience a decline in their occupational engagement and performance, thus leading to a negative impact upon their health and quality of life.
Methods: Survey research using a convergent, mixed methods design was conducted to compare the engagement levels of two groups of older adults, one with access to volunteer transportation and one without. The Engagement in Meaningful Activities Survey (EMAS) was used to measure the subjects’ engagement levels, as well as custom survey questions aimed at identifying other barriers and factors affecting their community mobility amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Results: The Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the community mobility and subsequent engagement levels of both subject groups. However, the engagement levels for the group of subjects normally with volunteer transportation access were lower compared to the subject group without such access. The decline seen in the group that was accustomed to using volunteer transportation was likely due to their loss of such transportation services caused by the pandemic shutdowns and restrictions, compared to the other subject group who had more driving members and did not experience a loss of services as significant as seen by the other subject group.
Conclusions: Community mobility is vital to the well-being of older adults and without the ability to participate or engage in meaningful activities, their levels of engagement can decline and subsequently lead to a decline in their quality of life. Community mobility must be regarded as more than just transportation to and from locations within the community and should be assessed as a means of promoting engagement in meaningful activities and occupational performance within one’s community, which are vital steps in positively influencing older adults’ health and well-being.
Casey Humphrey, OTD, MHA, OTR/L, CBIS, CDRS
Allen Keener, OTD, MS, OTR/L, ATP
2021 Belinda D. Alexander
Alexander, Belinda, "The Impact of Volunteer Transportation on Older Adult’s Engagement in Meaningful Activities" (2021). Occupational Therapy Doctorate Capstone Projects. 77.
IRB Approval Number (if applicable)