|Title||Active arts engagement and depression in older adults in the United States: Longitudinal evidence from the Health and Retirement Study|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Authors||Bone, J, Feifei Bu, Fluharty, M, Paul, E, Sonke, J, Fancourt, D|
|Keywords||activities, Arts, depression|
Objectives: Receptive cultural engagement, such as going to the theater and museums, has been shown to reduce depression in older adults. However, whether more active engagement in artistic and creative activities is associated with lower rates of depression remains unknown. We aimed to test whether active arts engagement was associated with concurrent and subsequent depression. Methods: Using longitudinal data from 19,134 participants aged over 50 in the Health and Retirement Study, arts engagement was measured every four years, and depression every two years, between 2008 and 2016. A score of three or more on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale indicated depression. We fitted population-averaged panel data models using generalized estimating equations with a logit link. Results: Engaging in artistic and creative activities, such as clubs, hobbies, and baking/cooking was associated with reduced depression, independent of confounders. Concurrently, spending time on hobbies (monthly OR=0.80, 95% CI=0.72-0.88; weekly OR=0.81, 95% CI=0.73-0.89) and clubs (monthly OR=0.85, 95% CI=0.77-0.94; weekly OR=0.78, 95% CI=0.69-0.88) was associated with lower odds of depression versus not engaging. Longitudinally, the odds of depression two years later were reduced amongst people engaging in weekly baking/cooking (OR=0.85, 95% CI=0.75-0.95), hobbies (OR=0.81, 95% CI=0.71-0.92), and clubs (OR=0.82, 95% CI=0.71-0.94). Writing, reading, sewing, and attending non-religious organizations were not consistently associated with depression. Discussion: Active engagement in artistic and creative activities is associated with reduced odds of depression. We should consider how older adults can be supported to actively engage in the arts as a health-promoting behavior.