The Relation of Volunteering and Subsequent Changes in Physical Disability in Older Adults.

TitleThe Relation of Volunteering and Subsequent Changes in Physical Disability in Older Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCarr, DC, Kail, BLennox, Rowe, JW
JournalJournals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsDisabilities, Health Conditions and Status, Volunteerism

Objectives: To describe the association between initiating volunteering and changes in physical disability in older adults, and whether intensity and gender modify this relationship.

Methods: Employing propensity score weighted regression adjustment, we calculate changes in disability using a sample of U.S. adults (n = 7,135) in the Health and Retirement Study (1996-2012) not volunteering at baseline but later initiating volunteering (1-99 hr/year or 100+ hours per year) or remaining a nonvolunteer.

Results: Relative to continuous nonvolunteers, low-intensity volunteering is related to 34% lower disability in the low-intensity group (average treatment effect [ATE] = -0.12) and 63% lower in the higher-intensity group (ATE = -0.23). For men, progression was lower only in the highest intensity group (ATE = +0.02), but women experienced similarly less progression of disability (38%-39%) at either level of new engagement (ATE = -0.17 and -0.18).

Discussion: Initiating a new volunteer role in later life is related to decreased progression of disability, at low or high levels for women and only at higher levels for men. This study suggests that volunteer intervention programs may represent a major public health strategy to delay the progression of physical disability for older adults.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key9361
PubMed ID28958062