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Altruism and HealthPerspectives from Empirical Research$
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Stephen G. Post

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.001.0001

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Rx: Volunteer: A Prescription for Healthy Aging

Rx: Volunteer: A Prescription for Healthy Aging

(p.116) 8 Rx: Volunteer: A Prescription for Healthy Aging
Altruism and Health

Adam S. Hirschfelder

Sabrina L. Reilly

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines one potentially useful yet, to date, virtually unexamined practical public health application of the research on the health benefits of volunteerism — the involvement of primary care physicians as volunteerism advocates. There are several reasons that physicians may be effective volunteerism advocates. First, volunteering tends to drop off after age sixty-five, at the precise time when its health benefits have been shown to be the most pronounced and when doctor visits are frequent. Second, studies have shown that older adults in particular are receptive to health advice from their physicians. Last, physicians have been effective advocates for increased physical activity in older adults, and involvement in volunteering may actually be easier to achieve, given the resistance of much of this population to exercise programs.

Keywords:   volunteerism, primary care physicians, older adults, health benefits, health advice

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