|Title||The Relationship Between Volunteering and the Occurrence of Loneliness Among Older Adults: A Longitudinal Study with 12 Years of Follow-Up.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||Forthcoming|
|Authors||Cho, J, Xiang, X|
|Journal||Journal of Gerontological Social Work|
|Keywords||Gender Differences, Loneliness, Volunteering|
Informed by the social model of health promotion, this study examined the association between formal volunteering and the occurrence of loneliness among older adults over 12 years of follow-up and whether the association differs by gender. Data came from the Health and Retirement Study (2006-2018). The study sample included 5,000 individuals aged 60 and over who did not experience loneliness in 2006. Self-reported participation in formal volunteer work was classified into three levels: (0) no volunteering, (1) less than 100 hours of volunteering per year, and (2) more than 100 hours of volunteering per year. Cox regression was used to examine the relationship between volunteering level and the onset of loneliness during the 12 years of follow-up. Volunteering more than 100 hours per year was associated with a lower risk of loneliness compared to non-volunteers (HR = 0.55, p = .008). This protective effect was not observed for those who volunteered less than 100 hours per year (HR = 0.84, p = .246). The benefits of volunteering in mitigating loneliness did not differ by gender. Engagement in moderate to high levels of volunteering can protect against loneliness. More volunteering programs can be offered to older adults to reduce loneliness in later life.