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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2013 Nov;68(6):997-1008. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbt098.

Volunteer transitions and physical and psychological health among older adults in Taiwan.

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Correspondence should be addressed to Ching-Huey Chen, Institute of Allied Health Sciences, National Cheng Kung University, No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road, Tainan 701, Taiwan, China. E-mail:



This study examines the relationship between transitions in volunteering activity and physical and psychological health outcomes among older adults in Taiwan.


We used 3 waves of a longitudinal survey from Taiwan (1999, 2003, and 2007) including 1,847 older adults aged 58-74. We categorized volunteer activity over time into 5 categories and used generalized estimating equations to examine the relationship between volunteer transition group membership and health outcomes.


Approximately, 3% of older volunteers kept volunteering and 7% stopped or started their volunteering over time. Engaging in any volunteering, including continuous volunteering, discrete volunteering, active-to-inactive volunteering, and inactive-to-active volunteering, was significantly associated with better self-rated health and higher life satisfaction when compared with the nonvolunteering group. Only those in the continuous volunteer group and those who shifted from inactive-to-active volunteering showed a positive association with better physical function and less depression, compared with the nonvolunteering group.


The results suggest that the positive relationship between volunteering and health may decline when older adults discontinue or withdraw from volunteering. More research is needed to explore the mechanism behind older people's desistance from, persistence in, and resumption of volunteer engagement.


Health; Older adults; Volunteer.

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