Importance: The activities that people engage in influence their well-being. Adults with low income have limited resources, which can affect their engagement in meaningful activities. Exploring the connection between meaningful engagement and well-being is an important step in providing occupational justice for this marginalized population.
Objective: To examine whether engagement in meaningful activities uniquely contributes to well-being for adults with low income after controlling for demographic variables.
Design: Cross-sectional exploratory study design.
Setting: Community agencies serving adults with low income, a local library, and a university union hall in northwest Ohio.
Participants: Adults with low income (N = 186).
Outcomes and Measures: Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Engagement in Meaningful Activities Survey (EMAS), and the World Health Organization–5 Wellbeing Index (WHO–5). We examined the influence of demographics and EMAS on the WHO–5.
Results: We identified a moderate correlation between the EMAS and WHO–5 (r = .52, p ≤ .05). Linear regression revealed an R2 = .27, F(7, 164) = 8.75, p < .001, with the EMAS and participant attributes as predictor variables. The R2 changed to .02 (p = .85) without the EMAS in the model.
Conclusions and Relevance: Findings support the need for and use of meaningful activities to support well-being and health for adults with low income.
What This Article Adds: Findings build on the evidence supporting the role of engagement in meaningful activities by drawing connections to a well-known and widely used measure of subjective psychological well-being and applying these connections to adults with low income. Occupational therapy practitioners can use measures such as the EMAS to strategically infuse aspects of meaning that promote engagement and foster well-being.