Leisure Activities and Mental Health among Aging People in Tehran, Iran
Introduction: Leisure activities are common among the elderly, however the effect of such activities on their mental health is poorly defined and not underpinned by strong evidence. This study aims to determine the prevalence of leisure activities and its relation to mental health in the elderly.
Methods: A cross- sectional study was conducted and 400 community dwelling older adults 60 years and more with appropriate cognitive function (Abbreviated Mental Test score 7 and more), were recruited through multi-stage stratified cluster sampling in Tehran, Iran . Data was gathered by demographic questionnaire and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). The primary outcomes to measure were the prevalence of leisure activities, and GHQ score in subgroups. Data were analyzed by Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, ANOVA, independent t-test and multiple linear regressions.
Results: Of participants 62% were in their 7th decade (60-74 years), 56% (224) were female with mean age of 66.98±8.22 , and 44% (176) male with mean age of 66.98±8.22. GHQ scores showed 65% of participants had good mental health (0-23) and 35% had mental health problems(24 and more).Mean of GHQ score in participants (n=377) was 21.8± 11.37 (0-28). watching TV(77%), reading books( 40.3%), walking (31.5%) and taking trip(36%) were more interesting leisure activities among older adults .Women, single, unemployed, alone and illiterate older adults had statistically significant(P<=0.05) upper GHQ scores. Participating in active leisure activities such as taking trip and cultural classes, participating in NGO activities, going to parks and gym and walking had significant relationships with good mental health (P<=0.05).
Conclusion: Encouraging older adults to participation in active leisure activities would be an effective intervention in mental health improvement. On the other hand understanding of relationship between type of leisure activities and mental health, provides evidence for policy makers and health care planners to offer and facilitate a context in which older adults can improve participation in active leisure activities.