Does Social Isolation Impact Mortality?

Social isolation — a lack of companionship or interaction — might correlate with a higher rate of illness and mortality, according to a study that followed participants age 52 or older from 2004-2012. Even if the respondents did not necessarily feel lonely, researchers found that the most socially isolated participants had a 26% higher mortality rate. These findings led researchers to think that having confidants could result in symptoms of illness or poor health being noticed sooner. In addition, physical contact correlated with a decrease in health symptoms such as pain or high blood pressure.

More about social contact:

  • About 25% of Americans who participated in one 2009 said they did not have one person in whom they could confide, compared with 10% who said the same in a 1985 survey.

  • A 2009 study of a genus of primates called macaques found that the animals with higher numbers of social contacts, such as fellow macaques that regularly groom each other, had lower mortality rates, perhaps because of the physical warmth and help in finding food that a larger social network provides.

  • People who use social networking websites are 30% less likely to know their neighbors and 26% less likely to be friendly with them, according to one study.

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