Social engagement and depressive symptoms in late life: longitudinal findings

J Aging Health. 2006 Aug;18(4):604-28. doi: 10.1177/0898264306291017.


Objective: The purpose is to investigate whether social engagement protects against depressive symptoms in older adults.

Method: Three waves of data from a representative cohort study of community-dwelling adults aged 65 years and above from the New Haven Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly are examined using random effects models.

Results: Social engagement (an index combining social and productive activity) is associated with lower CES-D scores after adjustment for age, sex, time, education, marital status, health and functional status, and fitness activities. This association is generally constant with time, suggesting a cross-sectional association. In addition, social engagement is associated with change in depressive symptoms, but only among those with CES-D scores below 16 at baseline.

Discussion: Social engagement is independently associated with depressive symptoms cross-sectionally. A longitudinal association is seen only among those not depressed at baseline.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged*
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Social Support*
  • United States