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Abstract

This study seeks to examine if volunteering affects mental and physical health and examine if health behaviors or social participation affect the association between volunteering and perceived mental and physical health.

Method and Data: Using a logistic regression model, data from a cross-sectional study that obtained a statewide representative sample of Texas adults, N=1409, was used to predict an adult’s perceived mental and physical health in relation to volunteering, after controlling for the effects of health behaviors and social participation.

Results: Adults who do not volunteer have an increased odds of reporting poor perceived physical and mental health. After controlling for social participation and positive health behaviors, volunteering was still a significant predictor of physical health, however, it was no longer a significant predictor of mental health.

Conclusions: Consistent with the hypothesis of this study, volunteering is associated with good physical health, however, this is not the case for mental health. Studies employing longitudinal study designs are needed to investigate more conclusively the effects of volunteering on health status.

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