Volunteering and mortality risk: a partner-controlled quasi-experimental design

Dermot O’Reilly, Michael Rosato, John Moriarty, Gerard Leavey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Background
    The consensus that volunteering is associated with a lower mortality risk is derived from a body of observational studies and therefore vulnerable to uncontrolled or residual confounding. This potential limitation is likely to be particularly problematic for volunteers who, by definition, are self-selected and known to be significantly different from non-volunteers across a range of factors associated with better survival.

    Methods
    This is a census-based record-linkage study of 308 733 married couples aged 25 and over, including 100 571 volunteers, with mortality follow-up for 33 months. We used a standard Cox model to examine whether mortality risk in the partners of volunteers was influenced by partner volunteering status—something expected if the effects of volunteering on mortality risk were due to shared household or behavioural characteristics.

    Results
    Volunteers were general more affluent, better educated and more religious than their non-volunteering peers; they also had a lower mortality risk [hazard ratio (HR)adj = 0.78: 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.71, 0.85 for males and HRadj = 0.77: 95% CI = 0.68, 0.88 for females]. However, amongst cohort members who were not volunteers, having a partner who was a volunteer was not associated with a mortality advantage (HRadj = 1.01: 95% CI = 0.92, 1.11 for men and HRadj = 1.00: 95% CI = 0.88, 1.13 women).

    Conclusions
    This study provides further evidence that the lower mortality associated with volunteering is unlikely to be due to health selection or to residual confounding arising from unmeasured selection effects within households. It therefore increases the plausibility of a direct causal effect.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages1295-1302
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
    Volume46
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

    Fingerprint

    Research Design
    Volunteers
    Mortality
    Confidence Intervals
    Censuses
    Proportional Hazards Models
    Observational Studies
    Consensus
    Odds Ratio
    Survival
    Health

    Keywords

    • Volunteering and mortality risk: a partner-controlled quasi-experimental design

    Cite this

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    title = "Volunteering and mortality risk: a partner-controlled quasi-experimental design",
    abstract = "BackgroundThe consensus that volunteering is associated with a lower mortality risk is derived from a body of observational studies and therefore vulnerable to uncontrolled or residual confounding. This potential limitation is likely to be particularly problematic for volunteers who, by definition, are self-selected and known to be significantly different from non-volunteers across a range of factors associated with better survival.MethodsThis is a census-based record-linkage study of 308 733 married couples aged 25 and over, including 100 571 volunteers, with mortality follow-up for 33 months. We used a standard Cox model to examine whether mortality risk in the partners of volunteers was influenced by partner volunteering status—something expected if the effects of volunteering on mortality risk were due to shared household or behavioural characteristics.ResultsVolunteers were general more affluent, better educated and more religious than their non-volunteering peers; they also had a lower mortality risk [hazard ratio (HR)adj = 0.78: 95{\%} confidence interval (CI) = 0.71, 0.85 for males and HRadj = 0.77: 95{\%} CI = 0.68, 0.88 for females]. However, amongst cohort members who were not volunteers, having a partner who was a volunteer was not associated with a mortality advantage (HRadj = 1.01: 95{\%} CI = 0.92, 1.11 for men and HRadj = 1.00: 95{\%} CI = 0.88, 1.13 women).ConclusionsThis study provides further evidence that the lower mortality associated with volunteering is unlikely to be due to health selection or to residual confounding arising from unmeasured selection effects within households. It therefore increases the plausibility of a direct causal effect.",
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    Volunteering and mortality risk: a partner-controlled quasi-experimental design. / O’Reilly, Dermot; Rosato, Michael; Moriarty, John; Leavey, Gerard.

    In: International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 46, No. 4, 01.08.2017, p. 1295-1302.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Volunteering and mortality risk: a partner-controlled quasi-experimental design

    AU - O’Reilly, Dermot

    AU - Rosato, Michael

    AU - Moriarty, John

    AU - Leavey, Gerard

    PY - 2017/8/1

    Y1 - 2017/8/1

    N2 - BackgroundThe consensus that volunteering is associated with a lower mortality risk is derived from a body of observational studies and therefore vulnerable to uncontrolled or residual confounding. This potential limitation is likely to be particularly problematic for volunteers who, by definition, are self-selected and known to be significantly different from non-volunteers across a range of factors associated with better survival.MethodsThis is a census-based record-linkage study of 308 733 married couples aged 25 and over, including 100 571 volunteers, with mortality follow-up for 33 months. We used a standard Cox model to examine whether mortality risk in the partners of volunteers was influenced by partner volunteering status—something expected if the effects of volunteering on mortality risk were due to shared household or behavioural characteristics.ResultsVolunteers were general more affluent, better educated and more religious than their non-volunteering peers; they also had a lower mortality risk [hazard ratio (HR)adj = 0.78: 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.71, 0.85 for males and HRadj = 0.77: 95% CI = 0.68, 0.88 for females]. However, amongst cohort members who were not volunteers, having a partner who was a volunteer was not associated with a mortality advantage (HRadj = 1.01: 95% CI = 0.92, 1.11 for men and HRadj = 1.00: 95% CI = 0.88, 1.13 women).ConclusionsThis study provides further evidence that the lower mortality associated with volunteering is unlikely to be due to health selection or to residual confounding arising from unmeasured selection effects within households. It therefore increases the plausibility of a direct causal effect.

    AB - BackgroundThe consensus that volunteering is associated with a lower mortality risk is derived from a body of observational studies and therefore vulnerable to uncontrolled or residual confounding. This potential limitation is likely to be particularly problematic for volunteers who, by definition, are self-selected and known to be significantly different from non-volunteers across a range of factors associated with better survival.MethodsThis is a census-based record-linkage study of 308 733 married couples aged 25 and over, including 100 571 volunteers, with mortality follow-up for 33 months. We used a standard Cox model to examine whether mortality risk in the partners of volunteers was influenced by partner volunteering status—something expected if the effects of volunteering on mortality risk were due to shared household or behavioural characteristics.ResultsVolunteers were general more affluent, better educated and more religious than their non-volunteering peers; they also had a lower mortality risk [hazard ratio (HR)adj = 0.78: 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.71, 0.85 for males and HRadj = 0.77: 95% CI = 0.68, 0.88 for females]. However, amongst cohort members who were not volunteers, having a partner who was a volunteer was not associated with a mortality advantage (HRadj = 1.01: 95% CI = 0.92, 1.11 for men and HRadj = 1.00: 95% CI = 0.88, 1.13 women).ConclusionsThis study provides further evidence that the lower mortality associated with volunteering is unlikely to be due to health selection or to residual confounding arising from unmeasured selection effects within households. It therefore increases the plausibility of a direct causal effect.

    KW - Volunteering and mortality risk: a partner-controlled quasi-experimental design

    U2 - 10.1093/ije/dyx037

    DO - 10.1093/ije/dyx037

    M3 - Article

    VL - 46

    SP - 1295

    EP - 1302

    JO - International Journal of Epidemiology

    T2 - International Journal of Epidemiology

    JF - International Journal of Epidemiology

    SN - 0300-5771

    IS - 4

    ER -