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Volunteering is associated with increased survival in able-bodied participants of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
journal contributionposted on 22.01.2016, 09:32 by Nina Trivedy Rogers, Panayotes Demakakos, Mark Steven Taylor, Andrew Steptoe, Mark Hamer, Aparna Shankar
Background: Volunteering has been linked to reduced mortality in older adults but the mechanisms explaining this effect remain unclear. Objectives: To determine whether volunteering is associated with increased survival in participants of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and to examine whether differences in survival are modified by functional disabilities. Methods: A multivariate Cox Proportional Hazards model was used to estimate the association of volunteering with survival over a period of 10.9 years in 10,324 participants, whilst controlling for selected confounders. To investigate effect modification by disability, the analyses were repeated in participants with and without self-reported functional disabilities. Results: Volunteering was associated with a reduced probability of death from all-causes in univariate analyses (HR = 0.65, CI 0.58-0.73, P < 0.0001), but adjustment for covariates rendered this association non-significant (HR = 0.90, CI 0.79–1.01, P = 0.07). Able-bodied volunteers had significantly increased survival compared to able-bodied non-volunteers (HR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.69 – 0.95, P = 0.009). There was no significant survival advantage among disabled volunteers, compared to disabled non-volunteers (HR = 1.06, CI 0.88–1.29, P = 0.53). Conclusion: Volunteering is associated with reduced mortality in older adults in England, but this effect appears to be limited to volunteers who report no disabilities
The work was supported by the National Institute on Aging in the United States (grants 2RO1AG7644-01A1 and 2RO1AG017644) and a consortium of UK government departments coordinated by the Office for National Statistics.
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