Social engagement and depressive symptoms in late life: Longitudinal findings

Thomas A. Glass, Carlos F. Mendes De Leon, Shari S. Bassuk, Lisa F. Berkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

334 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose is to investigate whether social engagement protects against depressive symptoms in older adults. Method: Three waves of data from a representative cohort study of community-dwelling adults aged 65 years and above from the New Haven Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly are examined using random effects models. Results: Social engagement (an index combining social and productive activity) is associated with lower CES-D scores after adjustment for age, sex, time, education, marital status, health and functional status, and fitness activities. This association is generally constant with time, suggesting a cross-sectional association. In addition, social engagement is associated with change in depressive symptoms, but only among those with CES-D scores below 16 at baseline. Discussion: Social engagement is independently associated with depressive symptoms cross-sectionally. A longitudinal association is seen only among those not depressed at baseline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-628
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Depression
  • Social activities
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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