Health Effects of Loneliness and Social Isolation: A Brief Literature Review

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  • Having social connections improves peoples’ odds of survival by 50% on average.
  • Living alone increased the likelihood of mortality the most, 32%, while social isolation raised the risk by 29% and loneliness by 26%.
  • Simply living with someone else increased survival by nearly 20%.
  • Extensive social integration nearly doubled the odds of survival.

Following is a selection of the recent published literature on the relationship between feelings of loneliness, social isolation, and rates of morbidity and mortality.

Read our full report here.

  1. Loneliness predicts pain, depression, and fatigue: understanding the role of immune dysregulation. Jaremka LM1, Fagundes CP, Glaser R, Bennett JM, Malarkey WB, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013;38(8):1310-7.
  2. Accelerated increase and decrease in subjective age as a function of changes in loneliness and objective social indicators over a four-year period: results from the health and retirement study. Ayalon L, Palgi Y, Avidor S, Bodner E. Aging Ment Health. 2015 Apr 30:1-9.
  3. Factors related to Chinese older adults' suicidal thoughts and attempts. Li H, Xu L, Chi I. Aging Ment Health. 2015 Apr 29:1-10.
  4. Internet Use and Well-Being in Older Adults. Heo J, Chun S, Lee S, Lee KH, Kim J. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2015 Apr 28. [Epub ahead of print].
  5. Loneliness in patients with cancer: the first year after cancer diagnosis. Deckx L, van den Akker M, van Driel M, Bulens P, van Abbema D, Tjan-Heijnen V, Kenis C, de Jonge ET, Houben B, Buntinx F. Psychooncology. 2015 Apr 24. doi: 10.1002/pon.3818. [Epub ahead of print].
  6. Social networks and links to isolation and loneliness among elderly HCBS clients. Medvene LJ, Nilsen KM, Smith R, Ofei-Dodoo S, DiLollo A, Webster N, Graham A, Nance A. Aging Ment Health. 2015 Mar 26:1-9. [Epub ahead of print].
  7. Loneliness is associated with frailty in community-dwelling elderly adults. Herrera-Badilla A, Navarrete-Reyes AP, Amieva H, Avila-Funes JA. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Mar;63(3):607-9. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13308.
  8. Loneliness as a public health issue: the impact of loneliness on health care utilization among older adults. Gerst-Emerson K, Jayawardhana J. Am J Public Health. 2015 May;105(5):1013-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302427. Epub 2015 Mar 19.
  9. Loneliness and health in Eastern Europe: findings from Moscow, Russia. Stickley A, Koyanagi A, Leinsalu M, Ferlander S, Sabawoon W, McKee M. Public Health. 2015 Apr;129(4):403-10. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2014.12.021. Epub 2015 Mar 3.
  10. Personal networks and mortality risk in older adults: a twenty-year longitudinal study. Ellwardt L, van Tilburg T, Aartsen M, Wittek R, Steverink N. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 3;10(3):e0116731. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116731. eCollection 2015.
  11. Loneliness predicts postprandial ghrelin and hunger in women. Jaremka LM, Fagundes CP, Peng J, Belury MA, Andridge RR, Malarkey WB, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Horm Behav. 2015 Apr;70:57-63. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.01.011. Epub 2015 Feb 25.
  12. Emotional and social loneliness in individuals with and without substance dependence disorder. Hosseinbor M, Yassini Ardekani SM, Bakhshani S, Bakhshani S. Int J High Risk Behav Addict. 2014 Aug 25;3(3):e22688. doi: 10.5812/ijhrba.22688. eCollection 2014 Sep.
  13. Safeness and Treatment Mitigate the Effect of Loneliness on Satisfaction With Elderly Care. Kajonius PJ, Kazemi A. Gerontologist. 2015 Jan 27. pii: gnu170. [Epub ahead of print].
  14. Association of depression and loneliness with specific cognitive performance in non-demented elderly males. Tzang RF, Yang AC, Yeh HL, Liu ME, Tsai SJ. Med Sci Monit. 2015 Jan 9;21:100-4. doi: 10.12659/MSM.891086.
  15. Loneliness and cognitive function in the older adult: a systematic review. Boss L, Kang DH, Branson S. Int Psychogeriatr. 2015 Apr;27(4):541-53. doi: 10.1017/S1041610214002749. Epub 2015 Jan 2.
  16. Chronic Illness and Loneliness in Older Adulthood: The Role of Self-Protective Control Strategies. Barlow MA, Liu SY, Wrosch C. Health Psychol. 2014 Dec 22. [Epub ahead of print].
  17. Social engagement and chronic disease risk behaviors: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Samuel LJ, Dennison Himmelfarb CR, Szklo M, Seeman TE, Echeverria SE, Diez Roux AV. Prev Med. 2015 Feb;71:61-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.12.008. Epub 2014 Dec 15
  18. Loneliness in the elderly is associated with the use of psychotropic drugs. Boehlen F, Herzog W, Quinzler R, Haefeli WE, Maatouk I, Niehoff D, Saum KU, Brenner H, Wild B. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014 Dec 12. doi: 10.1002/gps.4246. [Epub ahead of print]
  19. What prevents old people living alone from feeling lonely? Findings from the KORA-Age-study. Zebhauser A, Baumert J, Emeny RT, Ronel J, Peters A, Ladwig KH. Aging Ment Health. 2014 Nov 19:1-8. [Epub ahead of print].
  20. Relationship between loneliness, psychiatric disorders and physical health ? A review on the psychological aspects of loneliness. Mushtaq R, Shoib S, Shah T, Mushtaq S. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Sep;8(9):WE01-4. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2014/10077.4828. Epub 2014 Sep 20. Review

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