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Group activity participation at age 21 and depressive symptoms during boom and recession in Sweden: a 20-year follow-up

Group activity participation at age 21 and depressive symptoms during boom and recession in Sweden: a 20-year follow-up

European Journal of Public Health 29(3): 475-481

Organized group activities (e.g. sports or arts clubs) have long been noted as important developmental settings for youth, yet previous studies on the relationships between participation and mental health outcomes have focused on short-term effects among school-aged adolescents. The subsequent period of life, emerging adulthood, has been largely overlooked despite being another important life stage where individuals face new existential challenges and may benefit from group activity participation. The potential for macroeconomic conditions to modify these relationships has also not been considered. Participants (n = 1654) comprise two cohorts, born in either 1965 (n = 968) or 1973 (n = 686), from the same middle-sized industrial town in Northern Sweden. Both cohorts completed detailed questionnaires at age 21 (macroeconomic boom for Cohort 65, recession for Cohort 73) and approximately 20 years follow-up (age 43 for Cohort 65, age 39 for Cohort 73). General linear models were used to assess concurrent and prospective associations between regular group activity participation and depressive symptoms, as well as the potential interaction with boom/recession. After controlling for sociodemographic factors, regular group activity participation at age 21 was associated with lower depressive symptoms, both concurrently and at follow-up. Those exposed to recession at age 21 reported higher depressive symptoms at the time but there was no interaction between cohort (boom/recession) and group activity participation. Regular group activity participation during emerging adulthood is associated with lower depressive symptoms uniformly in times of boom and recession. Beneficial effects of such participation may contribute to better mental health over 20 years.

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Accession: 065798324

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PMID: 30265293

DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/cky201

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