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Education and Formal Volunteering Delays Cognitive Decline among Hispanics: Implications for Public Health Interventions

Authors: Gonzales, Ernest
Whetung, Cliff
Keywords: Formal Volunteering;Education;Health Equity;Cognitive Health;Hispanics
Issue Date: 11-Apr-2024
Publisher: The Center for Health and Aging Innovation
Abstract: This study examined the longitudinal associations of education and civic engagement with cognitive functioning among Hispanics in the United States. Methods included mixed effect growth curve models with Health and Retirement Study data on Hispanics in the United States (2006-2020, N = 2,437), controlling for economic, social, and health dimensions. Post-hoc analyses examined ages at which respondents met the threshold for cognitive impairment no dementia (CIND) status. Education and civic engagement resulted in a positive dose response with cognitive health benefits. The magnitude of health benefits, however, varied by educational attainment and civic intensity. Among Hispanics with less than a high school education, high intensity volunteering was positively associated with cognitive functioning at baseline and overtime, whereas any (low and high intensity) volunteering resulted in positive cognitive health at baseline and overtime among highly educated Hispanics. Post-hoc analyses reveal lower-educated respondents gained the greatest cognitive health benefits. High intensity volunteering delayed the onset of CIND status by 9 years among respondents with less than a high school education, in contrast to 5 years among college educated respondents. College completion and civic engagement are promising public health interventions to promote population health. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
Appears in Collections:Ernest Gonzales' Collection

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