Although the health benefits of volunteering have been well documented, no research has examined its cumulative effects according to other-oriented and self-oriented volunteering on multiple health outcomes in the general adult public. This study examined other-oriented and self-oriented volunteering in cumulative contribution to health outcomes (mental and physical health, life satisfaction, social well-being and depression).
Data were drawn from the Survey of Texas Adults 2004, which contains a statewide population-based sample of adults (n = 1504). Multivariate linear regression and Wald test of parameters equivalence constraint were used to test the relationships.
Both forms of volunteering were significantly related to better health outcomes (odds ratios = 3.66% to 11.11%), except the effect of self-oriented volunteering on depression. Other-oriented volunteering was found to have better health benefits than did self-volunteering.
Volunteering should be promoted by public health, education and policy practitioners as a kind of healthy lifestyle, especially for the social subgroups of elders, ethnic minorities, those with little education, single people, and unemployed people, who generally have poorer health and less participation in volunteering.