The protective properties of Act-Belong-Commit indicators against incident depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment among older Irish adults: Findings from a prospective community-based study

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Abstract

The Act-Belong-Commit campaign is the world's first comprehensive, population-wide, community-based program designed to promote mental health. The campaign targets individuals to engage in mentally healthy activities, while at the same time, encouraging community organizations that offer such activities, to increase participation in their activities. Using nationally-representative data from Ireland, the aim of this study was to prospectively assess the association between indicators of the Act-Belong-Commit behavioral domains and incident depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment.

Data from two consecutive waves of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) were analyzed. The analytical sample consisted of 6098 adults aged ≥ 50 years. Validated scales for depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment were used. The number of social/recreational activities engaged in was used as an indicator of Act, social network integration as an indicator of Belong, and frequency of participation in these social/recreational activities as an indicator of Commit. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess associations between baseline indicators of Act-Belong-Commit and incident depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment at two-year follow-up.

The adjusted model showed that each increase in the number of social/recreational activities (Act) inversely predicted the onset of depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. The same was the case for social network integration (Belong); that is, being well integrated into social networks was a significant protective factor against all mental health outcomes. Finally, frequency of participation in social/recreational activities (Commit) significantly and inversely predicted the onset of depression and anxiety, while the protective effect against cognitive impairment was only marginally significant.

Act-Belong-Commit indicators are shown to be protective against mental disorders and cognitive impairment among older Irish adults. This provides further evidence for the campaign's potential efficacy and has potentially wide-ranging implications for preventing the deterioration of mental health and cognitive decline in the aging community.

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