Background Social participation is linked to better health and well-being. However, there is limited research on the individual and area-level predictors of participation. This study aims to determine the characteristics associated with participation, particularly the impact of community asset availability.
Methods We used data from 34,582 adult respondents to the nationally representative Community Life Surveys from 2013 to 2018. We measured social participation by reported participation in 15 types of groups. We used probit and negative binomial regression models and included a wide range of individual, household and area characteristics, and availability of 14 types of community assets.
Results The following characteristics were associated with higher levels of participation: being female (+3.0 percentage points (p.p.) (95% CI 1.8p.p. to 4.1p.p.), Black, Asian or Minority Ethnicity (+3.7p.p. (1.9p.p. to 5.5p.p.)), homeownership (+4.1 p.p. (2.7p.p. to 5.6p.p.)) and living in a rural area (+2.1 p.p. (0.5p.p. to 3.6p.p)). Respondents from the most deprived areas were less likely to participate than those in average deprivation areas (-3.9p.p. (-5.9p.p. to -1.99p.p.)). Higher availability of community assets was associated with increased participation in groups. The effect of availability on participation varied by type of asset.
Conclusion Improving community assets infrastructure in high deprivation and urban areas would encourage more social participation in these areas.