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In this paper, we examined that whether engaging in voluntary work leads to greater well-being, measured by self-reported mental health and happiness. The primary objective of the research study was to establish a relationship between variables including volunteerism, mental health and happiness. Additionally, we assessed direct implication of volunteerism on mental health among the volunteers and non-volunteers. In order to evaluate, 50 volunteers and 50 non-volunteers were selected through snowball sampling from different areas of Karachi (Men: 56 and Women: 44). Participants filled questionnaire containing Demographic sheet, a Mental Health Questionnaire (Bargar, 1996) and The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (M. Argyle & P Hills, 2002). Pearson correlation test result indicated significant correlation between both variables. Moreover, an independent sample t-test revealed significant difference in the scores of mental health and happiness among volunteers and non-volunteers. Drawing on data, findings suggest that volunteerism lead to good mental health and happiness in volunteers.
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University of Karachi, Pakistan
In this paper, we examined that whether engaging in voluntary work leads to greater well-being, measured by
self-reported mental health and happiness. The primary objective of the research study was to establish a relationship
between variables including volunteerism, mental health and happiness. Additionally, we assessed direct implication of
volunteerism on mental health among the volunteers and non-volunteers. In order to evaluate, 50 volunteers and 50
non-volunteers were selected through snowball sampling from different areas of Karachi (Men: 56 and Women: 44).
Participants filled questionnaire containing Demographic sheet, a Mental Health Questionnaire (Bargar, 1996) and The
Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (M. Argyle & P Hills, 2002). Pearson correlation test result indicated significant
correlation between both variables. Moreover, an independent sample t-test revealed significant difference in the scores of
mental health and happiness among volunteers and non-volunteers. Drawing on data, findings suggest that volunteerism
lead to good mental health and happiness in volunteers.
KEYWORDS: Happiness, Mental Health, Voluntary Services, Volunteers, Well-Being
Volunteerism- service to others is integral for establishing world peace and creating harmony. It will help towards
education and giving people the ability to help them in the best possible way(Thoits, 2001). It is i mperative to understand
the fact that volunteerism is an integral step towards creating and sustaining healthy civic societies in the next millennium
(Van Willigen, 2000). In the sixth biannual scientific report on health, well-being, longevity and helping people it is safely
confirmed that a helpful life is more likely to be happier and a healthier one(Post, June,2014). This statement has been
central to our research which aims to provide an up to date scientific evidence for this association between giving,
flourishing interwoven with happiness and psychological aspects of health and well-being (Post, June,2014). All these
major surveys conducted nationally and internationally notably identify that giving and generosity is a crucial subject
linked to happiness and mental well-being.
The vast majority of people have more material wealth today than their parents had; the percentage of these
populations that is happy, however, has not increased whereas, depression and anxiety rates have increased dramatically
(Post G. , 2005). However, such elevated rates require serious reflection on our social environment. Given these trends,
sociologist and psychologist are interested in evaluating determinants and consequences of volunteer participation which
has improved significantly over the span of years (Thoits, 2001).
Over the years researchers have been trying to establish a relationship between the social and physiological
implications of volunteerism. For this purpose, several models have been designed to explain various domains of volunteer
work (Sullivan, 1997). Volunteer motivation model explains motivations behind the voluntary services. The model high
International Journal of Humanities
and Social Sciences (IJHSS)
ISSN(P): 2319-393X; ISSN(E): 2319-3948
Vol. 5, Issue 2, Feb - Mar 2016, 123-130
124 Salima Barkat Ali, Naima Aslam Khan & Amena Zehra
Impact Factor (JCC): 2.7367 NAAS Rating: 3.19
points the fact that people volunteer for different reasons including accomplishing new skills, self-enhancement, improving
self-worth or to express community commitment and personal values (Omoto Allen, 1990). Furthermore, values and
attitude model establishes an important connection between volunteering services and individual beliefs about the
significance of community participation or altruistic responsibility (Janoski, 1998). Additionally, volunteer personality
model describes an individual personality or innate traits which motivates individual to involve in volunteer activities.
Psychological well-being or mental health is the capacity to develop psychologically and emotionally, knowing
about others, overcoming psychological problems and being able to maintain relationships socially. Kamkary, K. &
Shokrzadeh, S. (2012) found positive significant relationship between happiness and mental wellbeing. Several studies
revealed that volunteering makes people happier, particularly when there is personal contact between the server and service
receiver. Happiness increases when volunteers help people they do not know (Steger, 2008).
The volume of literature on the association between the variables such as volunteerism and impacts on
psychological health and well-being has increased rapidly in the last decade. Early cross-sectional studies showed positive
correlations between volunteering and mental health (Sneed, 2013). However, these studies have failed to establish a direct
relationship between volunteerism and mental health which can’t be generalized to the entire population (Post G. , 2005).
Recently, with a major shift in the evolving trend and paradigm there have been number of longitudinal studies which have
helped to determine a relationship with these various variables (Schwartz, 1999).Well-being includes a feeling of
hopefulness, happiness and goodness about one self. An early study by Hunter and Lin concluded that volunteers scored
significantly higher in life satisfaction and reported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress in comparison to
non-volunteers (Hettman, 1990).
Additionally, Rietschlin, (1998) has found that volunteerism leads to a lower level of psychological pain and cope
up effectively with stressors. Similarly, Van Willigen, (1998) found that volunteerism increases life satisfaction and
decreases hopelessness; and its association with improved physical health. Implication of these studies suggests that
volunteerism and attendance in community work suggests that doing voluntary work improves the well-being of
individuals (Van Willigen, 2000).
Morrow-Howell, Hinterlong, Rozario and Tang (2003) researched on volunteering and well-being among the
individuals in the formal community involvement. Statistics of the research study revealed that volunteering is associated
with better health ratings, increased life expectancy, decreased mortality, higher levels of contentment and lower levels of
functional dependence and depressive symptomatology. However, overall evidence for contingent effects of volunteering
on well-being is limited and inconsistent. Additionally, few studies have investigated the extent to which volunteering
might be associated with different dimensions of psychological well-being (Greenfield, 2004).
Another popular research study by Borgonovi, F. (2008) defragmented the relationship between good health and
doing well. The research utilized self-reported measures of health and happiness in order to examine that whether engaging
in volunteer work leads to greater well-being (Borgonovi, 2008). The research suggested clear ties between volunteerism,
good physical health and mental health (Aknin, 2012). As per analysis, volunteers significantly highlighted decreased rates
of depression and mortality therefore, likely to be happier than non-volunteers. However, the research study does not
explain the motivating factors for voluntary work and reverse relationship between feeling well and inclination to
Effect of Volunteerism on Me ntal Health and Happiness 125
voluntary work (Bruhin, 2009).
For the purpose of this analysis, we conducted a survey which was based on the standard set of questionnaire. The
questionnaire was exclusively designed to assess self-reported psychological well-being and happiness among volunteers
and non-volunteers.
A random sample of 100 participants (N=100) was selected through snowball sampling. Out of 100 participants,
50 were volunteers and other 50 were non-volunteers. 68% of the participants were men and 32% were women. The
volunteers were selected from different areas of Karachi including Karachi University and Aga Khan Community in
Karachi. Both, volunteers and non-volunteers belonged to the age range of 18yrs – 65yrs.
Participants were asked to fill a questionnaire containing Demographic sheet, Bargar (1996) Mental Health
questionnaire and The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ) (M. Argyle & P Hills, 2002).
Bargar (1996) mental health questionnaire was based on 12 items measuring difficulty which an individual faces
in a particular area in one’s day-to-day life. It ranges from no difficulty to extreme difficulty. A low score on Mental
Health Questionnaire is linked with low difficulty in dealing with everyday issues and a better mental health. Internal
consistency at time 1 (alpha=0.62) and time 2 (alpha=0.58) separated by two weeks was found satisfactory (Bargar, 1996).
The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ) prepared by Michael Argyle and Peter Hills at Oxford University
(2002) was also administered in the research study. The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire is a scale used for the
measurement of psychological well-being, individual differences and personality. The OHQ demonstrated high scale
reliabilities with values a (167) = 0.92 and a (168) = 0.91 respectively. The inter-item correlations for the OHQ were _0.04
to 0.65, mean 0.28. The OHQ scores aggregated over all items were strongly and significantly related, r (163) =0.80,
P<0.001 (M. Argyle & P Hills, 2002).
After taking informed consent from the participants, objective of the study were explained clearly to the
participating members. Participants were asked to fill a questionnaire which included a demographic sheet. Participants
were asked to fill Mental Health questionnaire (Bargar, 1996) and The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ) of Michael
Argyle and Peter Hills (2002). After filling questionnaire, results of individual participants were emailed to their respective
email address as token of appreciation to participate in the research study. For statistical analysis of data, an independent
sample t-test was conducted to compare happiness and mental health of both groups. Also, Pearson correlation was used to
establish a relationship between variables such as volunteers, psychological well-being and happiness.
126 Salima Barkat Ali, Naima Aslam Khan & Amena Zehra
Impact Factor (JCC): 2.7367 NAAS Rating: 3.19
Table 1: Correlation between Mental Health and Happiness
Mental Health &
Happiness 100 -.855** 0.00
Correlation is significant at 0.01 levels (2 –tailed)
Table 2: Independent Sample T-Test Indicating Difference of
Happiness of Volunteers and Non -Volunteers
153.882 15.967 116.422 19.759 10.426** 0.00 2.08
An independent sample t test showed that the difference in happiness scores between the volunteers (n = 50, M =
153.882, SD = 15.967) and non-volunteers (n = 50, M = 116.422, SD = 19.759) were statistically significant, t
(98) = -10.426, p = .000, d = 2.08.
Table 3: Results Indicating Significant Difference in Mental
Health among Volunteers and Non-Volunteers
Volunteers Non-volunteers
Variable M SD M SD t(98) P Cohen’s
health 6.300 3.1184 26.3400 11.1403 12.249** 0.00 -2.44
An independent sample t test showed that the difference in mental health scores between the volunteers (n = 50, M
= 6.300, SD = 3.1184) and non-volunteers (n = 50, M = 26.340, SD = 11.140) were statistically significant, t(98)
= 12.249, p = .000, d = -2.44.
Table 4: Frequencies, Percentages and Chi-Square Test Indicating Gender,
Age and Marital Status Difference between Volunteers and Non-Volunteers
N=50 X ²
Male 26 (46.4%) 30 (53.6%) 0.420ns
Marital status
24 (54.5%)
Ns = non-significant
Chi-square test results indicated non-significant gender, age and marital status differences among volunteers and
Effect of Volunteerism on Me ntal Health and Happiness 127
The systematic review and meta-analysis has identified numerical evidence based on potential health benefits of
volunteering. Volunteer work is widely believed to be beneficial not only for the community as a whole but also for an
individual who perform it. Unfortunately, very little attention has been paid to the actual consequences of the volunteer
service contributing to an individual’s physical and psychological mental well-being.
Qualls, (2002) found that over time the risk factors increase for mental illnesses so maintaining mental health is
extremely important. He added that in order to maintain mental health three things need to be followed first, having a low
risk of disability or any disease; second, mental and physical well-functioning, and thirdly living a life to its
fullest(Saroglou, 2005).
Overall, results of the study are congruent in illuminating the idea that volunteering has been found to have better
psychological effects in the lives of people. The result of the study summarizes a positive correlation between greater
mental health and volunteerism. Volunteering is significantly associated with happiness and increased frequency of formal
volunteering increases levels of self-reported happiness. The research study suggests a stronger link between volunteer
work and well-being. The research study makes an important contribution by high pointing a positive association between
the variables.
Voluntary work is beneficial to well-being as Reitschlin (1998) identified that those people who contribute in
voluntary group membership have low psychological distress and also decreases the quantity of negative effects of the
various events which cause stress(Jenkinson, 2013). Van Willigen (1998) said that volunteerism increases life satisfaction
and decreases depression of people (Van Willigen, 2000). Young and Glasgow (1998) also stated that volunteerism is
positively related with better physical health.
The major limitation of the study is the participants chosen for the study were mostly affiliated to a particular
community. Therefore, future research directions must include people from diverse backgrounds and communities.
Additionally, the research study did not analyze motivating factors among volunteers. Furthermore, the research study did
not establish a reverse relationship between feeling well and inclination to voluntary work. Moreover, the research study
did not compare the levels of psychological well-being and happiness in secular and religious work. Finally, all other
variables such as age, gender, socio-economic factors were kept constant.
Results of present study and in the light of the available literature suggest that engaging in voluntary services
improves mental health and also contribute in attaining happiness. The statistical analysis of the answers provided by the
respondents’ suggests greater prevalence of psychological well-being and happiness among volunteers. More research on
doing well and contributing to the society will spark a movement in public health focusing on civic engagement and
helping behavior within communities.
1. Aknin, L. E. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial
128 Salima Barkat Ali, Naima Aslam Khan & Amena Zehra
Impact Factor (JCC): 2.7367 NAAS Rating: 3.19
spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 347-355.
2. Borgonovi, F. (2008). Doing well by doing good: The relationship between formal volunteering and self-reported
health and medicine. Social Science and Medicine, 2321-2334.
3. Bruhin, A. R. (2009). Happiness functions with preference interdependence and heterogeneity: The case of
altruism within the family. Journal of Population Economics, 1063-1080.
4. Greenfield, A. F. (2004). Formal Volunteering as a Protective Factor for Older Adults' Psychological Well-Being.
The Journals of Gerontology, 258-264.
5. Hettman, D. J. (1990). Volunteerism and Social Interest. Individual Psychology, 298-303.
Janoski, T. M. (1998). Being Volunteered? The Impact of Social Participation and Pro-Social Attitudes on
Volunteering. Sociological Forum, 495-519.
6. Jenkinson, E. P. (2013). Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of
the health and survival of volunteers. BMC Public Health, 889-920.
7. Omoto Allen, M. M. (1990). Basic Research in Action: Volunteerism and Society’s Responses to AIDS.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 152-156.
8. Post, G. (2005). Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to Be Good. International Journal of Behavioral
Medicine, 66-77.
9. Post, G. (June,2014). It's Good to be Good: 2014 Biennial Scientific Report on Health, Happiness, Longevity and
Helping Others. New York: Jonnes and Barlett Publishers.
10. Saroglou, V. I. (2005). Prosocial behavior and religion: New evidence based on projective measures and peer
ratings. . Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 323-348.
11. Schwartz, C. M. (1999). Helping others helps oneself: Response shift effects in peer support. Social Science and
Medicine, 1563-1575.
12. Sneed, R. H. (2013). A prospective study of volunteers and hypertension risk in older. Psychology and Aging,
13. Steger, F. T. (2008). Being good by doing good: Daily eudaimonic activity and well-being. Journal of Research in
Personality, 22-42.
14. Sullivan, G. M. (1997). Promoting wellness in cardiac rehabilitation: exploring the role of altruism. Journal of
Cardiovascular Nursing, 43-52.
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Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 308-318.
Effect of Volunteerism on Me ntal Health and Happiness 129
We, students of Psychology Department, Karachi University, are conducting a study concerning your beliefs and
attitudes. We need your cooperation for this purpose. You have to fill out the following questionnaires. Please don’t leave
any question unanswered. Feel free to ask any question. If you feel threatened in any way while answering the questions,
you can leave them unmarked and handover the questionnaires back. The information given by you is to be used only for
research purpose and would be kept confidential.
Marital status:
Please answer the following Question:
Q. Do you presently offer volunteer work for any religious organization? For a school or educational
organization? For a political group or labor union? For a senior citizens group or related organization? For any other
national or local organization, including hospitals, schools etc?”
A Mental Health Questionnaire (Bargar, 1996)
INSTRUCTIONS: For the following questions, please rate your level of difficulty in the situations by circling
the corresponding number. Please fill this questionnaire completely.
0=No difficulty; 1=A little; 2=Moderate; 3=Quite a bit; 4=Extreme
0 1 2 3 4
1. Managing day-to-day life (e.g., getting places on time, handling money,
making every day decisions)
2. Performing your duties at home, work, or school
3. Relationships with family members
4. Getting along with people outside of the family
5. Lack of self-confidence, feeling bad about yourself
6. Adjusting to major life stresses (e.g., new job, new school,
moving, separation, death)
7. Feeling satisfaction with your life
8. Overall emotional condition
9. Maintaining a relationship with a significant other
10. Feeling comfortable around people you don’t know
11. Accepting the authority of others
12. Expressing your needs to others
130 Salima Barkat Ali, Naima Aslam Khan & Amena Zehra
Impact Factor (JCC): 2.7367 NAAS Rating: 3.19
The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ)
INSTRUCTIONS: Below are a number of statements about happiness. Would you please indicate how much you
agree or disagree with each by entering a number alongside it according to the following code:
1=strongly disagree; 2=moderately disagree; 3=slightly disagree; 4=slightly agree; 5=moderately agree;
6=strongly agree. You will need to read the statements carefully because some are phrased positively and others
negatively. Don’t take too long over individual questions; there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers and no trick questions.
The first answer that comes into your head is probably the right one for you. If you find some of the questions difficult,
please give the answer that is true for you in general or for most of the time.
1 2 3 4 5 6
1. I don’t feel particularly pleased with the way I am (_)
2. I am intensely interested in other people
3. I feel that life is very rewarding
4. I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone
5. I rarely wake up feeling rested (_)
6. I am not particularly optimistic about the future (_)
7. I find most things amusing
8. I am always committed and involved
9. Life is good
10. I do not think that the world is a good place (_)
11. I laugh a lot
12. I am well satisfied about everything in my life
13. I don’t think I look attractive (_)
14. There is a gap between what I would like to do and what I have done (_)
15. I am very happy
16. I find beauty in some things
17. I always have a cheerful effect on others
18. I can fit in everything I want to
19. I feel that I am not especially in control of my life (_)
20. I feel able to take anything on
21. I feel fully mentally alert
22. I often experience joy and elation
23. I do not find it easy to make decisions (_)
24. I do not have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life (_)
25. I feel I have a great deal of energy
26. I usually have a good influence on events
1 2 3 4 5 6
27. I do not have fun with other people (_)
28. I don’t feel particularly healthy (_)
29. I do not have particularly happy memories of the past (_)
... These include external components such as beauty (Zabihian & Diessner, 2016) and novelty (Mitas & Bastiaansen, 2018). Moreover, emotions and values like pride (Ha & Jang, 2015), nostalgia (Rao et al., 2018), resilience (Smith & Hollinger-Smith, 2015), and altruism (Ali et al., 2016;Post, 2005) significantly influence happiness as well. The literature is also rich in terms of the benefits of happiness to man. ...
Happiness, a construct widely studied since ancient times, has permeated the field of tourism studies for its capacity to promote well-being and satisfaction among tourists. However, in a festival context, studies on happiness remain a research imperative to date. This phenomenological inquiry seeks to elucidate the ontology of festival happiness among a select group of Filipino repeat participants in three major community festivals in the Philippines. Twenty-one (n=21) purposively selected participants were involved and subjected to a semi-structured interview. Field texts were analyzed via primary and secondary coding analyses and through constant comparison of data, the Cone of Repeat Participants Festival Happiness consisting of distinct views of festival happiness as rootedness and responsibility has emerged in this qualitative study. Notably, the notion of festival happiness as rootedness emphasizes the role of aesthetics, spirituality, and nostalgia as these evoke pleasant emotions such as pride, appreciation, and devotion among festival participants. While the second notion, named festival happiness as responsibility, underscores that participation, growing with the festival, and contributing to its success may form happy, empathic, resilient, and altruistic festival participants. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in this paper.
... Recognition argue that personal narratives have been considered to be the most potent vehicles for advancing human rights claims across the world (2). In this paper, I maintain that narrative accounts of persons living with clinical depression have played a major role in renewing perceptions about persons living with depression and by claiming alternative paradigms of envisioning illness, coping and recovering with clinical depression in contemporary urban India, a thinking that claims that there is no pity, tragedy or shame attached to living with depression. ...
The primary thrust of this paper is to examine the problems of asserting selfhood in select user-recovery narratives of persons living with clinical depression. The ability to construct a coherent narrative of one’s experiences after the onset of mental illness in a person may, at the outset, seem counter-intuitive. Any form of cognitive disability severely hinders any attempt on the part of the narrator to re-construct a reliable narrative. One of the aims of this paper is to explore the different metaphors used in the personal stories to communicate the insider’s view of living with such a condition. These personal metaphors communicate subjective experiences that, at times, differ from the prevalent medical knowledge of the condition. This is the mental health recovery model that had developed in tandem with the developments in psychiatry and biomedicine, giving significant weight to the individual’s subjective definition of wellness, fulfillment, and personal meaning-making. By examining certain user narratives of clinical depression, which is written mostly by persons who received the medical diagnosis of the same, I try to foreground the healing and the didactic potentials of these autobiographical narratives of clinical depression which change over time in relation to the medical understanding of the condition. These accounts also attempt to challenge society’s core ideas as to what it means to be living with clinical depression within a particular social context. In sharing the experiences of living with such an ailment, the users necessitate the need to expunge the shame and stigma that is prevalent in urban India. KEYWORDS: stigma, shame, agency, selfhood, narrativity & recovery
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Introduction: Under the Community Health programme of National Health Mission (NHM), one of the key component is providing a trained female Community Health Worker (CHW) named as Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) in every village of the country to serve the most marginalized and vulnerable rural population. Methodology: Quantitative data collection method was used in this research. The data was collected from a purposive random sample of 309 ASHA which were interviewed through a structured questionnaires on their knowledge and practices on child health. Results: 88% ASHAs were found with Correct Knowledge of Complementary Feeding, 92% ASHAs had Correct Knowledge of ORS preparation, 85% ASHAs had Knowledge of Timely Initiation at correct age of Pediatric IFA syrup, 88% ASHAs had Knowledge on correct Pediatric IFA quantity, 94% ASHAs were found with Knowledge on correct Pediatric IFA frequency, 61% ASHAs had Correct Knowledge on danger sign detection, and 36% ASHAs were found with Correct Knowledge on SNCU discharge instructions. 84% ASHAs were found to be providing regular and structured Home visits to mothers on Child Health, 88% ASHAs were providing counselling on complementary feeding, 80% were ASHAs providing counselling on Exclusive Breastfeeding feeding, 92% ASHAs were providing counselling on ORS use during Diarhoea episodes, 85% ASHAs were providing counselling on Pediatric IFA supplementation, 61% ASHAs were providing counselling on danger Signs detection, However, only 10% ASHAs had referred sick infants to health facilities.
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The present study was carried out in Parul and sample code number was compared with (BARO 123450018408, 18415). Main objective of the study is to screen comparative study of Amalakichurna (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) as Rasayana in three different Oushadhasevan kala i.e. time of administration of medicine as Kinchitsuryodayajate (Sun-rise), Divas bhojane (Midday meal), Nishi (Night meal), and Regular food is given to Control group. Study design: A total of 100 healthy individual were selected and divided into 4 groups. Control group: Regular food was given for 30 days Group 1; Amalaki churna was given for 30 days during (Kinchit Suryodayajate)during sunrise process time (06:00 a.m.) Group 2: Amalaki churna was given for 30 days at Midday meal time (12:00 pm) Group 3: Amalaki churna was given for 30 days at Night time (08:00 p.m.) Superoxide dismutase was assayed in all the study groups by the method devised by Marklund S, Marklund G modified by Nandi and Chatterjee. Blood samples were collected from all the subjects. Analysis of study was done by using Tukeys multiple posthoc procedure and one way ANOVA test. Result-The serum SOD levels were significantly decreased in group 1 (8.09 units/ml.) as compared to control (14.37 units/ml.), group 2 (9.74 units/ml.) and group 3 (9.77 units/ml.) respectively. Conclusion-These results provide enough evidence of increased oxidative stress and a compromised antioxidant defense system in groups of healthy individuals.
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Volunteering has been advocated by the United Nations, and American and European governments as a way to engage people in their local communities and improve social capital, with the potential for public health benefits such as improving wellbeing and decreasing health inequalities. Furthermore, the US Corporation for National and Community Service Strategic Plan for 2011--2015 focused on increasing the impact of national service on community needs, supporting volunteers' wellbeing, and prioritising recruitment and engagement of underrepresented populations. The aims of this review were to examine the effect of formal volunteering on volunteers' physical and mental health and survival, and to explore the influence of volunteering type and intensity on health outcomes. Experimental and cohort studies comparing the physical and mental health outcomes and mortality of a volunteering group to a non-volunteering group were identified from twelve electronic databases (Cochrane Library, Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, CINAHL, ERIC, HMIC, SSCI, ASSIA, Social Care Online, Social Policy and Practice) and citation tracking in January 2013. No language, country or date restrictions were applied. Data synthesis was based on vote counting and random effects meta-analysis of mortality risk ratios. Forty papers were selected: five randomised controlled trials (RCTs, seven papers); four non-RCTs; and 17 cohort studies (29 papers). Cohort studies showed volunteering had favourable effects on depression, life satisfaction, wellbeing but not on physical health. These findings were not confirmed by experimental studies. Meta-analysis of five cohort studies found volunteers to be at lower risk of mortality (risk ratio: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.66, 0.90). There was insufficient evidence to demonstrate a consistent influence of volunteering type or intensity on outcomes. Observational evidence suggested that volunteering may benefit mental health and survival although the causal mechanisms remain unclear. Consequently, there was limited robustly designed research to guide the development of volunteering as a public health promotion intervention. Future studies should explicitly map intervention design to clear health outcomes as well as use pragmatic RCT methodology to test effects.
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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. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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We examine whether a positive feedback loop exists between spending money on others (i.e. prosocial spending) and happiness. Participants recalled a previous purchase made for either themselves or someone else and then reported their happiness. Afterward, participants chose whether to spend a monetary windfall on themselves or someone else. Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future. Thus, by providing initial evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and well-being, these data offer one potential path to sustainable happiness: prosocial spending increases happiness which in turn encourages prosocial spending. KeywordsHappiness–Well-being–Money–Prosocial spending–Sustainability–Feedback loop
Conference Paper
Objectives. Guided by interactional role theory and employing a resilience framework, this study aimed to investigate whether formal volunteering protects older adults with more role-identity absences in major life domains (partner, employment, and parental) from poorer psychological well-being. Methods. We used data from 373 participants, aged 65-74, in the 1995 National Survey of Midlife Development in the U.S. (MIDUS). Multivariate regression models estimated the effects of major role-identity absences, formal volunteering, and the interaction between major role-identity absences and volunteering on respondents' negative affect, positive affect, and purpose in life. Results. Participants with a greater number of major role-identity absences reported more negative affect, less positive affect, and less purpose in life. Being a formal volunteer was associated with more positive affect and moderated the negative effect of having more major role-identity absences on respondents' feelings of purpose in life. Discussion. Consistent with previous studies, findings indicate that having more role-identity absences constitutes a risk factor for poorer psychological well-being. Results further demonstrate that being a formal volunteer can protect older adults with a greater number of major role-identity absences from decreased levels of purpose in life. The findings suggest that associations between volunteering and psychological well-being might be contingent upon the volunteer's role-identity status and the dimension of psychological well-being examined.
Examined the social phenomenon of the involvement of volunteers in caring for persons with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Basic psychological theories were employed in coordinated longitudinal and cross-sectional research on 3 stages of the volunteer process: antecedents of the decision to be a volunteer, experiences of volunteers and those with whom they work, and consequences for volunteers and for society. Data collected from currently active AIDS volunteers illustrate the linkages between basic research and practical problems. Ways that basic theory can both guide research on societally important issues and be informed by such research conducted in applied contexts are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
120 individuals (aged 18–65 yrs), 60 of whom were active in 1 of 3 types of volunteer organizations, completed the Social Interest Scale. Findings partially validated the hypothesis that individuals who are involved in an ongoing commitment to a prosocial voluntary activity demonstrate a higher level of social interest values than those who do not volunteer. However, the hypothesis that social interest was a more important causal factor than the availability of leisure time in explaining participation in volunteer programs was not supported. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
An important discrepancy seems to exist between self-reports and laboratory studies regarding prosociality among religious people. Some have even suggested that this involves moral hypocrisy on the part of religious people. However, the assumption of the four studies reported here is that the impact of religiousness on prosociality is limited but exists, and does not reflect self-delusion. In Study 1 (N= 106), religious young adults tended not to use indirect aggression in dealing with hypothetical daily hassles. In Study 2 (N= 105), female students' religiosity was associated with willingness to help close targets in hypothetical situations but the effect was not extended to unknown targets. In Studies 3 (N= 315, 105 triads) and 4 (N= 274, 109 targets), religious targets not only reported high altruistic behavior and empathy, but were also perceived as such by peers (friends, siblings, or colleagues) in three out of four cases. Other results from the studies suggested that the prosociality of religious people is not an artifact of gender, social desirability bias, security in attachment, empathy, or honesty.
While disagreeing over the reasons why the performance of civic obligations seems to be declining, conservatives and liberals agree that people need to be reminded of their duties as citizens for this decline to be halted. But do these exhortations work? This paper tests two theories about how people become volunteers. The normativist perspective assumes that volunteer behavior flows from socialization into pro-social attitudes; the social practice perspective stresses the formative role of practical experiences and social participation. Using a panel study of high school seniors who were reinterviewed in their mid-20s and again in their early 30s, we show that volunteer work undertaken in high school has long-term benefits as does social participation more generally but that socialization into pro-social attitudes has an even stronger influence on volunteering in middle age. The implications of our study are that mandatory community service programs can boost later volunteer efforts but that socialization into appropriate citizenship attitudes is of equal, if not greater, importance.
Eudaimonic theories of well-being assert the importance of achieving one’s full potential through engaging in inherently meaningful endeavors. In two daily diary studies, we assessed whether reports of engagement in behaviors representative of eudaimonic theories were associated with well-being. We also examined whether eudaimonic behaviors were more strongly related to well-being than behaviors directed toward obtaining pleasure or material goods. In both studies, eudaimonic behaviors had consistently stronger relations to well-being than hedonic behaviors. Data also provided support for a temporal sequence in which eudaimonic behaviors were related to greater well-being the next day. Overall, our results suggest that “doing good” may be an important avenue by which people create meaningful and satisfying lives.