Volunteering interventions and outcomes in the education, health and criminal justice literature: a scoping review


The Home Office Public Service Agreement, as a result of the 2000 Spending Review included a commitment for more people to be actively involved in their communities. The Home Office provided extra investment to develop the national volunteering infrastructure. As part of its commitment to volunteering the Home Office commissioned a scoping review of the research literature on the outcomes of volunteering, spanning health, education and criminal justice. The aim of this review was to identify and describe the evidence available in terms of the types of study design, volunteering activity evaluated and outcomes measured.


A total of 110 studies were included: 42 in health, 35 in education and 33 in criminal justice. Most of the studies were conducted in the US, with only eight originating from the UK. The majority of studies were randomised controlled trials (39%), followed by controlled trials (37%), and pre-post test studies (22%). One meta-analysis was identified. The types of volunteering included mentoring, befriending, visiting, supporting, counselling and training. A range of outcomes were measured including self-esteem, self-concept, attitudes, quality of life, depression, reading development in children and rates of re-offending. Outcomes mainly related to those receiving the intervention, although some studies examined the effects on volunteers. A recommendation for a series of systematic reviews to evaluate the effects of volunteering interventions was made.

Conducted by: CRD, the Department of Educational Studies and the Centre for Criminal Justice Economics and Psychology, University of York


King SE, Bridle C, Wright K, Sowden AJ, Torgerson CJ, Perry A, Bjornsson H and Marandos R. Volunteering interventions and quantified outcomes in the education, health and criminal justice literature: a scoping review. York: University of York; 2002. Report submitted to The Home Office

Torgerson CJ, King SE, Sowden AJ. Do volunteers in schools help children learn to read? A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Educational Studies. 2002;28(4):433-44


Bridle C, Perry A, Torgesson CJ, Perry A, Sowden AJ, King S. Volunteering effects in the context of healthcare, education, and criminal justice. British Psychological Society Annual Conference; 2003 March; Bournemouth, UK


Commissioned by The Home Office