Does Voluntary Work Contribute to Cognitive Performance? – An International Systematic Review

Keefer A, Steichele K, Grässel E, Prokosch HU, Kolominsky-Rabas PL (2023)

Publication Type: Journal article, Review article

Publication year: 2023


Book Volume: 16

Pages Range: 1097-1109

DOI: 10.2147/JMDH.S404880


Introduction: There is a need for knowledge on activities that can reduce cognitive decline and dementia risk. Volunteering is a productive activity that entails social, physical, and cognitive functions. Therefore, volunteering could be a protective factor for cognitive loss. Thus, this review aims to examine the associations between volunteering and volunteers’ cognition and to identify influencing variables. Methods: Six international literature databases were searched for relevant articles published between 2017 and 2021 (ALOIS, CENTRAL, CINAL, Embase, PsycINFO, PubMed). Quantitative studies of all study designs were included. The primary outcome was the volunteers’ cognition measured by objective, internationally established psychometric function tests. Two authors independently assessed the eligibility and quality of the studies. A narrative synthesis was performed using all studies included in this review. The methodology was in line with the PRISMA guidelines. Results: Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were included. Seven of the included studies confirmed that volunteering positively affects the volunteers’ cognitive function. Two other studies identified an association between volunteer activity and volunteers’ cognition using cross-sectional measurements. In particular, women and people with a low level of education benefit from the positive effects and associations. The study quality of the included articles was moderate to weak. Discussion: Our review suggests that volunteering can improve volunteers’ cognition. Unfortunately, little attention is given to specific volunteer activities and the frequency of engagement. Additionally, more attention is needed on various risk factors of cognitive impairment.

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How to cite


Keefer, A., Steichele, K., Grässel, E., Prokosch, H.-U., & Kolominsky-Rabas, P.L. (2023). Does Voluntary Work Contribute to Cognitive Performance? – An International Systematic Review. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 16, 1097-1109.


Keefer, Anne, et al. "Does Voluntary Work Contribute to Cognitive Performance? – An International Systematic Review." Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare 16 (2023): 1097-1109.

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