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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Study protocol for a cluster randomized trial of the Community of Voices choir intervention to promote the health and well-being of diverse older adults

  • Author(s): Johnson, Julene K
  • Nápoles, Anna M
  • Stewart, Anita L
  • Max, Wendy B
  • Santoyo-Olsson, Jasmine
  • Freyre, Rachel
  • Allison, Theresa A
  • Gregorich, Steven E
  • et al.

Background: Older adults are the fastest growing segment of the United States population. There is an immediateneed to identify novel, cost-effective community-based approaches that promote health and well-being for olderadults, particularly those from diverse racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Because choral singing ismulti-modal (requires cognitive, physical, and psychosocial engagement), it has the potential to improve healthoutcomes across several dimensions to help older adults remain active and independent. The purpose of this studyis to examine the effect of a community choir program (Community of Voices) on health and well-being and toexamine its costs and cost-effectiveness in a large sample of diverse, community-dwelling older adults.Method/design: In this cluster randomized controlled trial, diverse adults age 60 and older were enrolled atAdministration on Aging-supported senior centers and completed baseline assessments. The senior centers wererandomly assigned to either start the choir immediately (intervention group) or wait 6 months to start (control).Community of Voices is a culturally tailored choir program delivered at the senior centers by professional musicconductors that reflects three components of engagement (cognitive, physical, and psychosocial). We describe thenature of the study including the cluster randomized trial study design, sampling frame, sample size calculation,methods of recruitment and assessment, and primary and secondary outcomes.Discussion: The study involves conducting a randomized trial of an intervention as delivered in “real-world”settings. The choir program was designed using a novel translational approach that integrated evidence-basedresearch on the benefits of singing for older adults, community best practices related to community choirs for olderadults, and the perspective of the participating communities. The practicality and relatively low cost of the choirintervention means it can be incorporated into a variety of community settings and adapted to diverse culturesand languages. If successful, this program will be a practical and acceptable community-based approach forpromoting health and well-being of older adults.

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