Research Article| Volume 69, ISSUE 3, P257-262, July 2011

Correlates of volunteering among aging Texans: The roles of health indicators, spirituality, and social engagement

  • SangNam Ahn
    Corresponding author at: Department of Social and Behavioral Health, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, 117 Administration Building, College Station, TX 77843-1266, United States. Tel.: +1 979 862 4941; fax: +1 979 458 4264.
    Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Health, United States
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  • Karon L. Phillips
    Scott & White Healthcare, Program on Aging and Care, United States
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  • Matthew Lee Smith
    Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Health, United States
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  • Marcia G. Ory
    Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Health, United States
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      This study aimed to identify participant characteristics associated with volunteering among older adults.


      Based on data from the 2008 Aging Texas Well (ATW) Indicators Survey, we examined the degree to which demographic factors, health status, spiritual participation, and community involvement are associated with volunteering among adults aged 60 years or older (n = 525).


      Rates of volunteering varied by race/ethnicity: non-Hispanic Whites (56.4%), African Americans (51.1%), and Hispanics (43.2%). Bivariate analyses showed that non-Hispanic White older adults were more likely to participate in formal volunteering activities, while their African American and Hispanic counterparts tended to participate in informal volunteering activities. Logistic regression analyses revealed that volunteering was less observed among Hispanics (OR = 0.48, 95% CI 0.29–0.78). Volunteering was more observed among those who reported providing informal care (OR = 1.93, 95% CI 1.14–3.28), having very good or excellent mental health (OR = 1.90 and 2.07, 95% CI 1.09–3.32 and 1.20–3.55, respectively), having weekly or daily spiritual participation (OR = 2.15 and 2.35, 95% CI 1.28–3.63 and 1.29–4.28, respectively), perceiving community involvement very important (OR = 2.37, 95% CI 1.55–3.62), and being very satisfied with the community interaction (OR = 1.81, 95% CI 1.15–2.85).


      Given the positive associations of mental health, spirituality, and social engagement with volunteering among older adults, system-level efforts to increase the sense of community among older adults and recognize their roles as volunteers will be helpful in recruiting and retaining older volunteers.


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