Does Volunteering Offer Health Benefits? (by Candace Bergam)

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Research Question:Does volunteering offer health benefits?


Ferraro, Kenneth F., and Yunqing Li. “Volunteering In Middle and Later Life: Is Health A Benefit, Barrier

Or Both?” Social Forces 85.1 (2006): 497+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2012

Summary: This study examines the connection between volunteering, functional limitations and depressive symptoms during middle and late adulthood. The findings show that volunteering has beneficial effects on individuals both physically and mentally while fulfilling an important civic component to communities.

Commentary: This article is interesting because it focuses on the positive benefits of volunteerism throughout different stages of an adult’s life. The article discusses why people begin to volunteer less throughout different stages in life and how it can have a negative impact on an individual’s life. This article is really useful because it offers a different perspective then my other research while still supporting my theory that volunteering does provide health benefits. Also, I think that many people can relate to this article because, often, they become too busy with life to take the time to volunteer.


Wilhelm, Ian. “Volunteering Leads to Longer and Healthier Life, Report Finds.” Chronicle of Philanthropy

17 May 2007. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2012

Summary: This article shares the findings of a report that collects data from other findings and was produced by the Corporation for National and Community Service. According to the report, scientific research shows that there are tangible advantages of volunteering like raising life expectancy, lowering rates of depression and recovering from illness more quickly.

Commentary: Although this information may be biased and one sided, it does provide useful, relevant and interesting information related to my research question. The fact that the report was written by the Corporation for National and Community Service can be both a positive and negative effect for my argument, as the corporation is definitely a knowledgeable source, but may be biased. However, I feel that the research presented proves to be a beneficial asset to my research question.


“Volunteering Could Extend Your Life: Research Shows That Older Adults Who Give of Their Time Tend

To Prolong Physical and Mental Health.” Healthy Years 6.7 (2009): 6. Academic OneFile. Web. 21

Nov. 2012.

Summary: The article features UCLA Health System geriatrician Michelle Eslami, MD, who speaks about the benefit of volunteering as it adds years to an individual’s life.  According to Eslami, the possible reasons for this are an increase in “self-efficacy” as well as mental stimulation.

Commentary: Although this article is very short, it is very informative. The evidence provided is useful to my research question. Having the findings of a medical doctor will be useful in providing evidence regarding my topic.


Flanagan, Constance, and Peter Levine. “Civic Engagement and the Transition to Adulthood.” The Future

of Children Spring 2010: 159+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article surveys civic engagement among U.S. adolescents and young adults. The article speaks about the importance of civic engagement and the benefits that it creates not only for the community, but for the individual. The article also speaks about how volunteering is affected by and can affect socioeconomic status in youth and young adults.

Commentary: My previous articles have focused primarily on older and middle aged adults, so having an article that focuses primarily on the health benefits of volunteering in the younger population will be really useful in creating a powerful argument that volunteering is important for individuals of all age groups because it does in fact display health benefits in all ages.


Tang, Fengyan, Valire Carr Copeland, and Sandra Wexler. “Racial Differences in Volunteer Engagement

By Older Adults: An Empowerment Perspective.” Social Work Research 36.2 (2012): 89+.

Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article studied the differences in volunteerism among older individuals from different racial groups. One of the key aspects of the findings is that volunteerism functions as an empowerment process for individuals, which helps to create several health benefits including psychosocial health benefits. The study suggests that certain races, such as older black adults, have more to gain from volunteering because it does provided empowering activities that help to connect the individual with the community as well as offer meaningful interaction and health benefits.

Commentary: Although this article does focus primarily on volunteerism and racial differences, which my paper does not necessarily focus on, It does display helpful and useful information regarding the connection between volunteerism and an improved quality of life. I think that the focus on volunteerism functioning as an empowerment process will help to create a strong argument for the benefits of volunteering.  One of the aspects of this article that I enjoyed was that it includes the components and variable of the study.


Rosenthal, Robert. “Rx for Nonprofits: Your Volunteers and the Health Benefits of Service.” Web log

post. N.p., 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This blog covers the results of a survey that was compiled by UnitedHealthcare and Volunteer Match. The survey provides evidence that volunteering can in fact enhance physical and mental health as well as strengthening relationships between individuals in the community. The key findings are supported with a myriad of statistical evidence.

Commentary: The language in this blog is very persuasive and is helpful in that it is a great example of the writing that I would like to create regarding my research question. The quantitative evidence provided in this blog from the survey will be very helpful in creating my persuasive argument, as many individuals seek numbers as proof. Not only that, but most of my articles are academic articles and do not feature any quantitative research.



One comment

  1. Arianna

    I am really interested in the topic you wrote about because in the beginning of the term I wrote about this a little. I am a big believer in that volunteering is good for your health. It make you feel good that your helping other people and the community which can relive some stress and make you a happier person. When I’m volunteering I forget about the stresses from my day to day life and focus on helping out. I think that volunteering at all ages is best. I see that volunteering at an older age is good for their physical health because it gets them up and out of their house. I can very well relate to having a busy life, as a lot of us can, but I don’t think it’s an excuse for us to not volunteer every once in a while. I even wrote about this in my journal 4.
    You did a really good job on getting sources that directly relate to your topic and that have really good information. You have information from different ages and how volunteering can help in many different ways. Your commentaries are straight forward and informational and I think that you did a great job!

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