Associations between volunteering and cognitive impairment: The moderating role of race/ethnicity.

TitleAssociations between volunteering and cognitive impairment: The moderating role of race/ethnicity.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWang, Y, Wong, R, Amano, T, Shen, H-W
JournalHealth & Social Care in the Community
ISSN Number1365-2524
Keywordsformal volunteering, informal volunteering, minority ageing, objective cognition, subjective cognition

Although volunteering has been shown to benefit cognitive health, there is a paucity of evidence on informal volunteering and subjective measures of cognitive impairment. Also, little is known about whether such relationships vary by race/ethnicity. This study aimed to examine the associations of both formal and informal volunteering with older adults' objective and subjective cognition and explore the moderating role of race/ethnicity in such associations. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study in the United States (2010-2016), 9941 older adults (51+) who were cognitively unimpaired in 2010 and alive through 2016 were included. Ordered logistic regression models were performed to assess the relationships among volunteering, cognitive impairment and race/ethnicity. Findings showed that more years of formal and informal volunteering significantly reduced the odds of objective cognitive impairment; neither volunteering type was significant for subjective cognitive impairment. The relationship between informal volunteering and objective cognition varied by race/ethnicity. Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Black older adults who engaged in more years of informal volunteering had a significantly higher odds of cognitive impairment over time. The current study is one of the first to look at the associations between informal volunteering and cognition. The inclusion of subjective cognitive impairment, paired with objective measures of cognition, also adds value to the knowledge body. Our findings indicate any type of volunteering is a viable approach to prevent cognitive impairment for older populations. However, more research is needed to better understand why racial/ethnic minority, particularly non-Hispanic Black older adults, do not benefit from informal volunteering.

Citation Key12452
PubMed ID35599382
PubMed Central IDPMC10084262