Education and Formal Volunteering Delays Cognitive Decline among Hispanics: Implications for Public Health Interventions

TitleEducation and Formal Volunteering Delays Cognitive Decline among Hispanics: Implications for Public Health Interventions
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsGonzales, E, Whetung, C
Series TitleWorking Paper Series
InstitutionThe Center for Health and Aging Innovation
CityNew York
Keywordscivic engagement, Cognitive health, Education, Equity, Hispanics
Abstract

This study examined the longitudinal associations of education and civic engagement with
cognitive functioning among Hispanics in the United States. Methods included mixed effect
growth curve models with Health and Retirement Study data on Hispanics in the United States
(2006-2020, N = 2,437), controlling for economic, social, and health dimensions. Post-hoc
analyses examined ages at which respondents met the threshold for cognitive impairment no
dementia (CIND) status. Education and civic engagement resulted in a positive dose response
with cognitive health benefits. The magnitude of health benefits, however, varied by educational
attainment and civic intensity. Among Hispanics with less than a high school education, high
intensity volunteering was positively associated with cognitive functioning at baseline and
overtime, whereas any (low and high intensity) volunteering resulted in positive cognitive health
at baseline and overtime among highly educated Hispanics. Post-hoc analyses reveal lowereducated respondents gained the greatest cognitive health benefits. High intensity volunteering
delayed the onset of CIND status by 9 years among respondents with less than a high school
education, in contrast to 5 years among college educated respondents. College completion and
civic engagement are promising public health interventions to promote population health.
Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.

DOI
Citation Key13894