Volunteering is associated with delayed mortality in older people: analysis of the longitudinal study of aging

J Health Psychol. 2005 Nov;10(6):739-52. doi: 10.1177/1359105305057310.


The Longitudinal Study of Aging (LSOA) assessed the health and social functioning of a representative sample of 7527 American community-dwelling older people (>70 years). We tested the hypothesis that frequent volunteering is associated with less mortality risk when the effects of socio-demographics, medical status, physical activity and social integration are controlled. We used Cox proportional hazards analyses to assess the unadjusted and adjusted associations between frequency of volunteering and time-to-death (96-month follow-up). Death occurred in 38.3 percent of the sample. After adjusting for covariates, frequent volunteers had significantly reduced mortality compared to non-volunteers. This association was greatest for those who frequently visited with friends or attended religious services.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mortality*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Social Support
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Volunteers / psychology*