Community participation and mental health during retirement in community sample of Australians

Sarah Olesen, Helen Berry

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: This study considered whether community participation during later adulthood is more strongly associated with mental health during retirement than it is while in employment; i.e. in the absence of paid work.

    Method: Participants were 322 men and 311 women aged 45 years and older, who were part of a random sample of an Australian coastal community. The frequency of participation across 14 types of community-based activities was assessed. Overall mental health was measured on a 10-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. Linear regression models tested the multivariate associations between distress and community participation, and whether this association differed for retired and working people.

    Results: Retirees did not participate in their communities more than working people. The association between community participation and psychological distress did not differ by retirement status when people of all ages were considered together; however, stronger associations between several activities and (less) distress were found for retirees compared to their working peers in a younger cohort (aged 45 to 54). This cohort coincides with the average age of transition to retirement in Australia.

    Conclusion: These findings offer some support for the view that community participation may assist in managing the mental health implications of the transition from work to retirement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)186-197
    Number of pages12
    JournalAging and Mental Health
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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