Informal Helping and Subsequent Health and Well-Being in Older U.S. Adults.

TitleInformal Helping and Subsequent Health and Well-Being in Older U.S. Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsNakamura, JS, Lee, MT, VanderWeele, TJ, Kim, ES
JournalInt J Behav Med
ISSN Number1532-7558

BACKGROUND: Growing evidence suggests that informal helping (unpaid volunteering not coordinated by an organization or institution) is associated with improved health and well-being outcomes. However, studies have not investigated whether changes in informal helping are associated with subsequent health and well-being.

METHODS: This study evaluated if changes in informal helping (between t;2006/2008 and t;2010/2012) were associated with 35 indicators of physical, behavioral, and psychosocial health and well-being (at t;2014/2016) using data from 12,998 participants in the Health and Retirement study - a national cohort of US adults aged > 50.

RESULTS: Over the four-year follow-up period, informal helping ≥ 100 (versus 0) hours/year was associated with a 32% lower mortality risk (95% CI [0.54, 0.86]), and improved physical health (e.g., 20% reduced risk of stroke (95% CI [0.65, 0.98])), health behaviors (e.g., 11% increased likelihood of frequent physical activity (95% CI [1.04, 1.20])), and psychosocial outcomes (e.g., higher purpose in life (β = 0.15, 95% CI [0.07, 0.22])). However, there was little evidence of associations with various other outcomes. In secondary analyses, this study adjusted for formal volunteering and a variety of social factors (e.g., social network factors, receiving social support, and social participation) and results were largely unchanged.

CONCLUSIONS: Encouraging informal helping may improve various aspects of individuals' health and well-being and also promote societal well-being.

Citation Key13307
PubMed ID37233899
PubMed Central IDPMC10215039