Why it's better to give than to receive

Washington, February 5 (ANI): Providing tangible assistance to others protects our health and lengthens our lives, according to researchers.

But they failed to establish that the same benefits accrue to the recipients of such help.

"This study offers a significant contribution to the research literature on the relationship between social environment and health, and specifically to our understanding of how giving assistance to others may offer health benefits to the giver by buffering the negative effects of stress," said Principal investigator Michael J. Poulin, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo.

Poulin, along with colleagues at Stony Brook University and Grand Valley State University, pointed out that although it is established that social isolation and stress are significant predictors of mortality and morbidity, 20 years of studies and meta-analytical review have failed to establish that receiving social support from others buffers recipients against mortality after exposure to psychosocial stress.

"As the title of our study indicates," Poulin said, "we tested the hypothesis that providing help to others would predict a reduced association between stress and mortality for the helpers.

"Specifically, over the five years of the study, we found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not helped others," he said.

Poulin concluded is that helping others reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality.

The study was posted online Jan. 17 by the American Journal of Public Health, which will publish the study in an upcoming print issue. (ANI)

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