224549 Volunteering as a major component of aging well: Examining minority participation

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 1:45 PM - 2:00 PM

Marcia G. Ory, PhD, MPH , Social & Behavioral Health, Texas A&M HSC School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX
SangNam Ahn, PhD, MPSA , Division of Health Systems Management and Policy, The University of Memphis School of Public Health, Memphis, TN
Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, MPH, CHES , School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Station, TX
Angelica P. Herrera, DrPH , Division of Geriatric Psychiatry; Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA
Karon Phillips, PhD, MPH , Program on Aging and Care, Scott & White Memorial Hospital, Temple, TX
Nelda Mier, PhD , Texas A&M Health Sciences Center, School of Rural Public Health, McAllen, TX
Background. Volunteerism has been associated with improved cognition, emotional health, and social well-being, especially in older adults. Current research documents that minorities are less likely to volunteer than non-minorities. Yet, little is known about predictors of organized versus informal volunteerism among seniors, and the influence of minority status. Methods. Data were collected from 539 adults (≥ 60 years) who responded to a statewide telephone survey generated from a random sample of Texas households in 2008. Designed to understand indicators of successful aging, study variables included: demographics; community involvement; and physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of health. Logistic regression analyses were performed to identify factors associated with organized and informal volunteerism. Results. Older minorities were less likely to engage in organized volunteerism (i.e., African American: 21.7%; Hispanic: 20.3%; non-Hispanic White: 36.9%). Patterns for informal volunteerism differed among minority groups (i.e., African American: 42.2%; Hispanic: 36.4%; non-Hispanic White: 43.8%). Older adults likely to participate in organized volunteering had more than a high school education (OR=3.70), excellent mental health (OR=2.08), participated in daily spiritual activity (OR=2.16), and reported community involvement to be important (OR=2.50). Seniors likely to participate in informal volunteering had excellent mental health status (OR=1.78), participated in daily spiritual activity (OR=2.52), and reported community involvement to be important (OR=1.59). Conclusions. Further study is needed to examine why volunteer rates are lower among older minorities. The findings suggest positive messages integrating altruism, spirituality, and improved well-being could be utilized to encourage increased minority participation in all forms of volunteer activities.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify prevalence of organized and informal volunteerism among Texas Seniors 2. Describe general volunteer rates and specific volunteer behaviors by minority/ethnic status 3. Explore factors related to volunteerism in older adults and implications for encouraging more volunteerism among minority populations

Keywords: Minority Health, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee and evaluate many evidence-based programs targeting older adults.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.