Does social participation decrease the risk of frailty? Impacts of diversity in frequency and types of social participation on frailty in middle-aged and older populations

Author: Ju Sun1, Xuying Kong1, Haomiao Li2, Jiangyun Chen3, Qiang Yao1, Hanxuan Li1, Feng Zhou4, Hua Hu5
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> School of Political Science and Public Administration, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China. <sup>2</sup> School of Political Science and Public Administration, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China. <sup>3</sup> School of Health Management, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China. <sup>4</sup> School of Public Health, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. <sup>5</sup> College of Medicine and Health Science, Wuhan Polytechnic University, Wuhan, China.
Conference/Journal: BMC Geriatr
Date published: 2022 Jul 2
Other: Volume ID: 22 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 553 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1186/s12877-022-03219-9. , Word Count: 330

Social participation (SP) may be an effective measure for decreasing frailty risks. This study investigated whether frequency and type of SP is associated with decreased frailty risk among Chinese middle-aged and older populations.

Data were derived from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). Frailty was assessed using the Rockwood's Cumulative Deficit Frailty Index. SP was measured according to frequency (none, occasional, weekly and daily) and type (interacting with friends [IWF]; playing mah-jong, chess, and cards or visiting community clubs [MCCC], going to community-organized dancing, fitness, qigong and so on [DFQ]; participating in community-related organizations [CRO]; voluntary or charitable work [VOC]; using the Internet [INT]). Smooth curves were used to describe the trend for frailty scores across survey waves. The fixed-effect model (N = 9,422) was applied to explore the association between the frequency/type of SP and frailty level. For baseline non-frail respondents (N = 6,073), the time-varying Cox regression model was used to calculate relative risk of frailty in different SP groups.

Weekly (β = - 0.006; 95%CI: [- 0.009, - 0.003]) and daily (β = - 0.009; 95% CI: [- 0.012, - 0.007]) SP is associated with lower frailty scores using the fixed-effect models. Time-varying Cox regressions present lower risks of frailty in daily SP group (HR = 0.76; 95% CI: [0.69, 0.84]). SP types that can significantly decrease frailty risk include IWF, MCCC and DFQ. Daily IWF and daily DFQ decreases frailty risk in those aged < 65 years, female and urban respondents, but not in those aged ≥ 65 years, male and rural respondents. The impact of daily MCCC is significant in all subgroups, whereas that of lower-frequent MCCC is not significant in those aged ≥ 65 years, male and rural respondents.

This study demonstrated that enhancing participation in social activities could decrease frailty risk among middle-aged and older populations, especially communicative activities, intellectually demanding/engaging activities and community-organized physical activities. The results suggested very accurate, operable, and valuable intervening measures for promoting healthy ageing.

Keywords: Communicative activities; Community-organized physical activities; Frailty; Frequency; Intellectually demanding/engaging activities; Social participation.

PMID: 35778684 DOI: 10.1186/s12877-022-03219-9