Volunteering by older adults and risk of mortality: A meta-analysis

Morris A. Okun, Ellen Wan Heung Yeung, Stephanie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Scopus citations

Abstract

Organizational volunteering has been touted as an effective strategy for older adults to help themselves while helping others. Extending previous reviews, we carried out a meta-analysis of the relation between organizational volunteering by late-middle-aged and older adults (minimum age = 55 years old) and risk of mortality. We focused on unadjusted effect sizes (i.e., bivariate relations), adjusted effect sizes (i.e., controlling for other variables such as health), and interaction effect sizes (e.g., the joint effect of volunteering and religiosity). For unadjusted effect sizes, on average, volunteering reduced mortality risk by 47%, with a 95% confidence interval ranging from 38% to 55%. For adjusted effect sizes, on average, volunteering reduced mortality risk by 24%, with a 95% confidence interval ranging from 16% to 31%. For interaction effect sizes, we found preliminary support that as public religiosity increases, the inverse relation between volunteering and mortality risk becomes stronger. The discussion identifies several unresolved issues and directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-577
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and aging
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 13 2013

Keywords

  • Moderation
  • Mortality
  • Older adults
  • Volunteering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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