A prospective study of volunteerism and hypertension risk in older adults
The purpose of the current study was to determine whether volunteerism is prospectively associated with hypertension risk among older adults. Participants provided data during the 2006 and 2010 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal panel survey using a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older adults (age > 50 years). Volunteerism and blood pressure were measured at baseline and again 4 years later. Analyses excluded individuals hypertensive at baseline and controlled for age, race, sex, education, baseline systolic/diastolic blood pressure, and major chronic illnesses. Those who had volunteered at least 200 hr in the 12 months prior to baseline were less likely to develop hypertension (OR = 0.60; 95% CI [0.40, 0.90]) than nonvolunteers. There was no association between volunteerism and hypertension risk at lower levels of volunteer participation. Volunteering at least 200 hr was also associated with greater increases in psychological well-being (B = 0.99, β = .05, p = .006) and physical activity (B = 0.21, β = .05, p = .04) compared with nonvolunteers; however, these factors did not explain the association of volunteerism with hypertension risk.