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.