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Open Access Research article

Leisure and religious activity participation and mental health: gender analysis of older adults in Nepal

Ramraj Gautam*, Tami Saito and Ichiro Kai

Author Affiliations

Department of Social Gerontology, School of Health Sciences and Nursing, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1, Hongo, Bunkyo-Ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:299  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-299

Published: 22 October 2007

Abstract

Background

Involvement in activities has been found to be beneficial for improving quality of life and successful aging for older adults. Little is known, however, about the involvement in activities and depression of older adults in Asian developing countries. This study explores whether participation in leisure social and religious activities are related to depression and satisfaction with life in older adults of Nepal. Gender differences are also explored.

Methods

The study sample was derived from a survey which aimed to determine the intergenerational relationships between older adults and their married sons. A cross-sectional quantitative study of older adults sixty years and over in Nepal was conducted with face-to-face interviews using structured instruments. A convenience sample of 489 community dwelling older adults, 247 men and 242 women, were included in the study. The dependent variables, depression and satisfaction with life, were measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) respectively. Age, gender, marital status, education, perceived health, financial satisfaction, social support received and provided by older adults, and social activity were independent variables in the study.

Results

Saying prayers (B = -2.75; p < 0.005), watching television and listening to the radio (B = -1.88; p < 0.05), and participating in physical activity (B = -1.05; p < 0.05) correlated to lower depression for older men, but only watching television and listening to the radio (B = -2.68; p < 0.005) related to lower rates of depression for women. Socializing with others (B = 1.22; p < 0.05) was related to higher satisfaction with life for men, but for women visiting friends (B = 1.29; p < 0.05), socializing with others (B = 1.45; p < 0.005), and watching television and listening to the radio (B = 0.92; p < 0.05) related to improved satisfaction with life. Activity engagement significantly improved mental health in older adults.

Conclusion

Specific activity participation was a significant correlate of lower levels of depression and higher levels of satisfaction with life among older adults in Nepal. The findings explore the need for further research on activity participation in developing countries so that it can be useful for health care practioners and those involved with the activities of aged populations in developing countries.