The Association Between Volunteerism and Mental Health Outcomes in Older Adults: Implications for Nursing Intervention

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael Cartwright (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Francine Sheppard

Abstract: Problem: Few studies have explored older adult mental health in relation to volunteerism and any implications for nursing intervention. The ability to better predict health outcomes in older adults may allow for earlier interventions that could improve overall health, including mental health to assist in maintaining independence. Older adults account for the largest group of volunteers in the US. The purpose of this study was to examine mental health outcomes in older adults and determine whether a relationship existed between women’s mental health and volunteerism. Methods: A sample population of 305 retired women was recruited using convenience sampling from community settings within six Southern US states. Multiple instruments were used to measure mental health outcomes, including measures of self-assessed health, functionality, and social support. Differences in the proportion of women were grouped by volunteering status (number of days spent volunteering per month) and type of volunteering activity (church-related, community organization, and others). Results: The median age in the sample population was 73.1 years. The sample consisted of 56.7 % white and 43.3 % all races except white. Less than a third of the respondents were married, and 82.3 % had a high school diploma or more. Analyses are ongoing. Conclusions/Implications: While analyses are ongoing, it is anticipated that earlier recognition and appropriate nursing and other healthcare professional interventions with older women may enable positive aging and improved quality of life.

Additional Information

Poster submitted to the 2020 Research and Scholarship Conference, Western Carolina University.
Language: English
Date: 2020
nursing intervention, volunteering, older adults, elderly, mental health

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