Advertisement

Social Indicators Research

, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 337–351 | Cite as

Health Outcomes and Volunteering: The Moderating Role of Religiosity

  • Lindsey McDougle
  • Femida Handy
  • Sara Konrath
  • Marlene Walk
Article

Abstract

In this paper, we examine whether and what extent public and private forms of religiosity act as moderators of the volunteering and well-being relationship in mid- to later-life. We use data from the second wave of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (n = 1,805). We analyzed the relationships between volunteering and indicators of well-being (self-rated physical and mental health), and tested the moderating effects of public and private religiosity on the volunteering and well-being relationship. Our findings suggest that salubrious effects of volunteering on the self-perceived physical and mental health of middle- aged and older- aged adults varied by their participation in different forms of religiosity. In particular, volunteers who engaged in more public forms of religiosity reported significantly better physical and mental health than non-volunteers who engaged in these forms of religiosity. In other words, individuals who were actively engaged public forms of religious practices and who volunteered, maximized the associated health benefits.

Keywords

Volunteering Religiosity Health outcomes 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Partial support for this research was gratefully received from a grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

References

  1. Allison, P. (2001). Missing data. Thousand Oaks California: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Ayalon, L. (2008). Volunteering as a predictor of all-cause mortality: What aspects of volunteering really matter? International Psychogeriatrics, 20(5), 1000–1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borgonovi, F. (2008). Doing well by doing good: The relationship between formal volunteering and self-reported health and happiness. Social Science and Medicine, 66(11), 2321–2334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011). Volunteering in the United States. Retrieved August 28, 2012, from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.toc.htm.
  6. Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., & Thisted, R. A. (2010). Perceived social isolation makes me sad: 5-year cross-lagged analyses of loneliness and depressive symptomatology in the Chicago Health, Ageing, and Social Relations Study. Psychology and Ageing, 25(2), 453–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Einolf, C. (2009). Will the boomers volunteer during retirement? Comparing the baby boom, silent and long civic cohorts. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 38(2), 181–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Einolf, C. (2013). Daily spiritual experiences and prosocial behavior. Social Indicators Research, 110(1), 71–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Glass, T. A., Mendes de Leon, C. F., Bassuk, S. S., & Berkman, L. F. (2006). Social engagement and depressive symptoms in late life. Journal of Ageing and Health, 18(4), 604–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Glock, C. Y. (1962). On the study of religious commitment. Religious Education, 57(4), 98–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gottlieb, B., & Gillespie, A. (2008). Volunteerism, health, and civic engagement among older adults. Canadian Journal on Ageing, 27(4), 399–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Greenfield, E. A., & Marks, N. F. (2004). Formal volunteering as a protective factor for older adults’ psychological well-being. Journal of Gerontology, 59B(5), S258–S264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greenfield, E. A., Vaillant, G. E., & Marks, N. F. (2009). Do formal religious participation and spiritual perceptions have independent linkages with diverse dimensions of psychological well-being? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 50(2), 196–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grimm, R, Jr, Spring, K., & Dietz, N. (2007). The health benefits of volunteering: A review of recent research. Washington, DC: Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development.Google Scholar
  15. Hank, K., & Stuck, S. (2008). Volunteer work, informal help, and care: Further evidence for ‘linked’ productive activities at older ages. Social Science Research, 37(4), 1280–1291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harris, A. H., & Thoresen, C. E. (2005). Volunteering is associated with delayed mortality in older people: Analysis of the Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of Health Psychology, 10(6), 739–752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hirschfelder, M. A., & Reilly, S. L. (2007). Rx: Volunteer a prescription for healthy aging. In S. G. Post (Ed.), Altruism and health: Perspective from empirical research (pp. 116–140). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hodgkinson, V. A., Weitzman, M. S., & Kirsch, A. D. (1990). From commitment to action: How religious involvement affects giving and volunteering. Faith and philanthropy in America: Exploring the role of religion in America’s voluntary sector. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Nonprofit Sector Series.Google Scholar
  19. House, J. S., Landes, K. R., & Umbertson, D. (1988). Social relationships and health. Science, 214, 540–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Husaini, B. A., Blasi, A. J., & Miller, O. (1999). Does public and private religiosity have a moderating effect on depression? A bi-racial study of elders in the American south. International Journal of Ageing and Human Development, 48(1), 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Idler, E. L., Musick, M. A., Ellison, C. G., George, L. K., Krause, N., Ory, M. G., et al. (2003). Measuring multiple dimensions of religion and spirituality for health research. Research on Ageing, 25(4), 327–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kim, J., & Pai, M. (2010). Volunteering and trajectories of depression. Journal of Ageing and Health, 22(1), 84–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim, K. H. C., & Sobal, J. (2004). Religion, social support, fat intake and physical activity. Public Health Nutrition, 7(06), 773–781.Google Scholar
  24. Konrath, S., & Brown, S. (2012) The effects of giving on givers. In R. Nicole, & M. Newman (Eds.), Handbook of Health and Social Relationships. APA Books.Google Scholar
  25. Konrath, S., Fuhrel-Forbis, A., Lou, A., & Brown, S. (2011). Motives for volunteering are associated with mortality risk in older adults. Health Psychology, 31(1), 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lakey, B., & Cohen, S. (2000). Social support theory and selecting measures of social support. In S. Cohen, L. U. Gordon, & B. H. Gottlieb (Eds.), Social support measurement and interventions: A guide for health and social scientists. New York: Oxford.Google Scholar
  27. Li, Y., & Ferraro, K. F. (2005). Volunteering and depression in later life: Social benefit or selection processes? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 46(1), 68–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Li, Y., & Ferraro, K. F. (2006). Volunteering in middle and later life: Is health a benefit, barrier, or both? Social Forces, 85(1), 497–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lin, N., Ye, X., & Ensel, W. M. (1999). Social support and depressed mood: A structural analysis. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40(4), 344–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lum, T. Y., & Lightfoot, E. (2005). The effects of volunteering on the physical and mental health of older people. Research on Ageing, 27(1), 31–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Luoh, M., & Herzog, A. R. (2002). Individual consequences of volunteer and paid work in old age: Health and mortality. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(4), 490–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Martinson, M., & Minkler, M. (2006). Civic engagement and older adults: A critical perspective. The Gerontologist, 46(3), 318–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mayou, R. A., Ehlers, A., & Hobbs, M. (2000). Psychological debriefing for road traffic accident victims Three-year follow-up of a randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 176(6), 589–593.Google Scholar
  34. Midlarsky, E., & Kahana, E. (1994). Altruism in later life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Midlarsky, E., & Kahana, E. (2007). Altruism, well-being, and health in late life. In Stephen Post (Ed.), Altruism and health: Perspectives from empirical research. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Moen, P., Dempster-McClain, D., & Williams, R. M. (1992). Successful ageing: A life course perspective on women’s multiple roles and health. American Journal of Sociology, 97(6), 1612–1638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Morrow-Howell, N., Hinterlong, J., Rozario, P., & Tang, F. (2003). Effects of volunteering on the well-being of older adults. Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58(3), S137–S145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Morrow-Howell, N., Hong, S., & Tang, F. (2009). Who benefits from volunteering? Variations in perceived benefits. The Gerontologist, 49(1), 91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Musick, M., Herzog, A., & House, J. (1999). Volunteering and mortality among older adults: Findings from a national sample. Journal of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 54(3), S173–S180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Musick, M. A., House, J., & Williams, D. (2004). Attendance at religious services and mortality in a national sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45(2), 198–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Musick, M. A., & Wilson, J. (2003). Volunteering and depression: The role of psychological and social resources in different age groups. Social Science and Medicine, 56(2), 259–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Musick, M. A., & Wilson, J. (2008). Volunteering: A social profile. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Oman, D. (2007). Does volunteering foster physical health and longevity? In S. G. Post (Ed.), Altruism and health: Perspectives from empirical research (pp. 15–32). New York, NY: Oxford University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Oman, D., Thoresen, C. E., & McMahon, K. (1999). Volunteerism and mortality among the community dwelling elderly. Journal of Health Psychology, 4(3), 301–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Piliavin, J. A., & Siegl, E. (2007). Health benefits of volunteering in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 48(4), 450–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone. The collapse and revival of American community. NY: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  47. Roff, L. L., Klemmack, D. L., Parker, M., Koenig, H. G., Sawyer-Baker, P., & Allman, R. M. (2005). Religiosity, smoking, exercise, and obesity among southern, community- dwelling older adults. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 24(4), 337–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Son, J., & Wilson, J. (2011). Generativity and volunteering. Sociological Forum, 26(3), 645–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tan, E. J., Rebok, G. W., Yu, Q., Frangakis, C. E., Carlson, M. C., et al. (2009). The long-term relationship between high-intensity volunteering and physical activity in older African American Women. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 64B(2), 304–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tan, E., Xue, Q.-L., Li, T., Carlson, M., & Fried, L. (2006). Volunteering: A physical activity intervention for older adults—the experience corps program in Baltimore. Journal of Urban Health, 83(5), 954–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Taniguch, H., & Thomas, L. D. (2011). The influence of religious attitudes on volunteering. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 22(2), 335–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thoits, P. A., & Hewitt, L. N. (2001). Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42(2), 115–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thoresen, C. E. (1999). Spirituality and health: Is there a relationship? Journal of Health Psychology, 4(3), 291–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thoresen, C. E., & Harris, A. H. S. (2002). Spirituality and health: What’s the evidence and what’s needed? Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24(1), 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. van Willigen, M. (2000). Differential benefits of volunteering across the life course. Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 55(5), S308–S318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Willson, M. F. (1993). Dispersal mode, seed shadows, and colonization patterns. Vegetatio, 107(1), 261–280.Google Scholar
  57. Wilson, J. (2000). Volunteering. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 215–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wilson, J. (2012). Volunteerism research: A review essay. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(2), 176–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wilson, J., & Janoski, T. (1995). The contribution of religion to volunteer work. Sociology of Religion, 56(2), 137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsey McDougle
    • 1
  • Femida Handy
    • 1
  • Sara Konrath
    • 2
  • Marlene Walk
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social Policy & PracticeUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations