Social engagement and depressive symptoms: do baseline depression status and type of social activities make a difference?

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Abstract

Objectives

our purpose is to examine whether the association between social engagement and depressive symptoms differs by initial level of depressive symptoms and by the types of social engagement in which older adults engage.

Design

persons aged 60 years and older in 2006 (n = 4,098) were drawn from Wave 1 of the Korean Longitudinal Study of Ageing and followed through Wave 3 (2010). Growth curve analyses were conducted to identify the association between engagement in multiple types of social activities and 4-year change in depressive symptoms. Depression trajectories are examined separately by baseline depression status.

Results

attending religious services was related to an increase in depressive symptoms and participating in social gatherings with friends and neighbours was related to a decrease in depressive symptoms, but only among persons with CES-D 10 scale score below 10 at baseline.

Conclusions

our findings suggest that the positive effects of participating in social gatherings with friends and family are manifest among older adults who have good mental health to begin with. Our findings also suggest that the association between social engagement and mental health varies by type of engagement and initial depression level.

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