Using funding from their 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Competition Research grant, PhD graduate student Jennifer Crittenden, and her doctoral advisor, Dr. Sandra Butler, at the University of Maine are exploring older adults’ changing roles in Juggling Multiple Roles: An Examination of Role Conflict.
As the nature of the "retirement years" continues to change in our society, older adults are increasingly occupying productive roles within their families, workplaces, and communities creating the opportunity for conflict of time and energy resources. The volunteer management sector is now faced with a critical task of engaging older adults who are increasingly giving of their time and talents to multiple life endeavors (roles). Specifically, the proposed project will utilize a national sample of current AmeriCorps Senior Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers to examine the extent to which older adult volunteers experience role conflict between their volunteer role and other social roles they occupy.
- This exploratory study will examine the following research questions:
- Does the conflict between work, caregiving, informal helping roles, and volunteer roles predict role satisfaction and intention to leave volunteerism among older adults?
- What are the compensatory strategies used by older adults to navigate role conflict?
- What benefits do older adults accrue in their volunteer roles that could effectively counterbalance role conflict?
Preliminary results found support for both role strain and role enhancement among the volunteers surveyed. Specifically, the study found that role conflict was a significant predicator of volunteer satisfaction among those who hold multiple life roles. The study also found that the number of roles held outside of formal volunteering was a significant predicator of volunteer participation. Significant differences were found between workers and non-workers and caregivers and non-caregivers with regard to their role conflict levels. Additional findings add to the growing body of research surrounding the benefits of volunteering, such as caregiving knowledge and skill, increased socialization for caregivers, new work-related skills and networking for workers.