Who Benefits From Helping? Moderators of the Association Between Informal Helping and Mortality.

TitleWho Benefits From Helping? Moderators of the Association Between Informal Helping and Mortality.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsNakamura, JS, Shiba, K, Jensen, SM, VanderWeele, TJ, Kim, ES
JournalAnn Behav Med
Date Published2023 Aug 04
ISSN Number1532-4796
Keywordsinformal helping, Mortality

BACKGROUND: While informal helping has been linked to a reduced risk of mortality, it remains unclear if this association persists across different levels of key social structural moderators.

PURPOSE: To examine whether the longitudinal association between informal helping and all-cause mortality differs by specific social structural moderators (including age, gender, race/ethnicity, wealth, income, and education) in a large, prospective, national, and diverse sample of older U.S. adults.

METHODS: We analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, a national sample of U.S. adults aged >50 (N = 9,662). Using multivariable Poisson regression, we assessed effect modification by six social structural moderators (age, gender, race/ethnicity, wealth, income, and education) for the informal helping (2006/2008) to mortality (2010-2016/2012-2018) association on the additive and multiplicative scales.

RESULTS: Participants who reported ≥100 hr/year of informal helping (vs. 0 hr/year), had a lower mortality risk. Those who engaged in 1-49 hr/year most consistently displayed lower mortality risk across moderators, while those who engaged in 50-99 and ≥100 hr/year only showed decreased mortality risk across some moderators. When formally testing effect modification, there was evidence that the informal helping-mortality associations were stronger among women and the wealthiest.

CONCLUSIONS: Informal helping is associated with decreased mortality. Yet, there appear to be key differences in who benefits from higher amounts of informal helping across social structural moderators. Further research is needed to evaluate how the associations between informal helping and health and well-being are patterned across key social structural moderators.

Citation Key13429
PubMed ID37540830
Grant List / / Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research /
/ / Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS) program-Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) /