Presentation Title

Associations between meaningful activity and social closeness with well-being for persons with disabilities

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

Persons with disabilities (PWD) experience high rates of physical and mental challenges, high levels of depression and suicidality, and are considered a health disparity population. PWD often lack opportunities to fully participate in meaningful experiences in their communities, resulting in feelings of social isolation or loneliness. Improving well-being is paramount to enhancing the health status of PWD. Two approaches that have demonstrated promise in increasing long-term well-being in the general population are 1) engagement in meaningful activity and 2) experiences of social closeness. This study examined whether these two approaches were associated with greater immediate well-being for PWD and those without disabilities.

Meaningful activities have been defined as subjective experiences that provide an opportunity for completion of important tasks, and foster a sense of feeling valued, in-control, and socially connected with others. To understand the role of meaningful activity in well-being, we asked the question: is participation in meaningful activities associated with greater well-being? Social closeness is a person’s perception of their degree of embeddedness in a social network. We analyzed the link between social closeness and well-being by asking the question: is participation in activities with socially close others (operationalized as family members, household members, or friends) associated with greater well-being? Finally, we ascertained what particular activities and which types of relationships were related with the greatest happiness and meaning.

To answer our questions, we used data from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 Well-Being Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data were collected using a version of the Daily Reconstruction Method, which demonstrates strong validity for determining variations in affective state during the course of a normal day. Participants (PWD = 4,079, persons without disabilities = 30,486) included a large and representative sample of the non-institutionalized U.S. population age 15+. Predictor variables were the meaningfulness of the activity and the presence of various types of relationship categories during the activity. Outcome variables were assessed by a 7-point likert scale, and included 1) happiness and 2) the average of the negative well-being scales of pain, sadness, stress, and fatigue. Meaningfulness was used as an outcome variable to determine which relationships and activities were most meaningful.

To our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that meaningful activities are associated with greater immediate happiness and less negative well-being for PWD and persons without disabilities. PWD especially benefit from activities that foster a sense of mastery, such as household activities, and that strengthen self-efficacy, such as participation in government services and civic obligations. Importantly, our findings are the first to indicate the value of being with socially close others regardless of the extent of interpersonal interaction. Merely being in the presence of socially close others is associated with greater immediate happiness.

Our findings highlight the utility of incorporating ample opportunities for social closeness and meaningful activities that allow for mastery and self-efficacy in interventions aimed at improving well-being for PWD. Increasing daily experiences of social closeness and meaning may result in improved health outcomes and greater quality of life for this marginalized population.

Mentor Name

Jennifer Waltz

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Feb 22nd, 11:40 AM Feb 22nd, 11:55 AM

Associations between meaningful activity and social closeness with well-being for persons with disabilities

UC 333

Persons with disabilities (PWD) experience high rates of physical and mental challenges, high levels of depression and suicidality, and are considered a health disparity population. PWD often lack opportunities to fully participate in meaningful experiences in their communities, resulting in feelings of social isolation or loneliness. Improving well-being is paramount to enhancing the health status of PWD. Two approaches that have demonstrated promise in increasing long-term well-being in the general population are 1) engagement in meaningful activity and 2) experiences of social closeness. This study examined whether these two approaches were associated with greater immediate well-being for PWD and those without disabilities.

Meaningful activities have been defined as subjective experiences that provide an opportunity for completion of important tasks, and foster a sense of feeling valued, in-control, and socially connected with others. To understand the role of meaningful activity in well-being, we asked the question: is participation in meaningful activities associated with greater well-being? Social closeness is a person’s perception of their degree of embeddedness in a social network. We analyzed the link between social closeness and well-being by asking the question: is participation in activities with socially close others (operationalized as family members, household members, or friends) associated with greater well-being? Finally, we ascertained what particular activities and which types of relationships were related with the greatest happiness and meaning.

To answer our questions, we used data from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 Well-Being Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data were collected using a version of the Daily Reconstruction Method, which demonstrates strong validity for determining variations in affective state during the course of a normal day. Participants (PWD = 4,079, persons without disabilities = 30,486) included a large and representative sample of the non-institutionalized U.S. population age 15+. Predictor variables were the meaningfulness of the activity and the presence of various types of relationship categories during the activity. Outcome variables were assessed by a 7-point likert scale, and included 1) happiness and 2) the average of the negative well-being scales of pain, sadness, stress, and fatigue. Meaningfulness was used as an outcome variable to determine which relationships and activities were most meaningful.

To our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that meaningful activities are associated with greater immediate happiness and less negative well-being for PWD and persons without disabilities. PWD especially benefit from activities that foster a sense of mastery, such as household activities, and that strengthen self-efficacy, such as participation in government services and civic obligations. Importantly, our findings are the first to indicate the value of being with socially close others regardless of the extent of interpersonal interaction. Merely being in the presence of socially close others is associated with greater immediate happiness.

Our findings highlight the utility of incorporating ample opportunities for social closeness and meaningful activities that allow for mastery and self-efficacy in interventions aimed at improving well-being for PWD. Increasing daily experiences of social closeness and meaning may result in improved health outcomes and greater quality of life for this marginalized population.