Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality A Meta-Analytic Review

From the article, Perspectives on Psychological Science, March 2015  vol. 10 no. 2 227-237

Several lifestyle and environmental factors are risk factors for early mortality, including smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and air pollution. However, in the scientific literature, much less attention has been given to social factors demonstrated to have equivalent or greater influence on mortality risk (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). Being socially connected is not only influential for psychological and emotional well-being but it also has a significant and positive influence on physical well-being (Uchino, 2006) and overall longevity (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988Shor, Roelfs, & Yogev, 2013). A lack of social connections has also been linked to detrimental health outcomes in previous research. Although the broader protective effect of social relationships is known, in this meta-analytic review, we aim to narrow researchers’ understanding of the evidence in support of increased risk associated with social deficits. Specifically, researchers have assumed that the overall effect of social connections reported previously inversely equates with risk associated with social deficits, but it is presently unclear whether the deleterious effects of social deficits outweigh the salubrious effects of social connections. Currently, no meta-analyses focused on social isolation and loneliness exist in which mortality is the outcome. With efforts underway to identify groups at risk and to intervene to reduce that risk, it is important to understand the relative influence of social isolation and loneliness.

Living alone, having few social network ties, and having infrequent social contact are all markers of social isolation. The common thread across these is an objective quantitative approach to establish a dearth of social contact and network size. Whereas social isolation can be an objectively quantifiable variable, loneliness is a subjective emotional state. Loneliness is the perception of social isolation, or the subjective experience of being lonely, and thus involves necessarily subjective measurement. Loneliness has also been described as the dissatisfaction with the discrepancy between desired and actual social relationships (Peplau & Perlman, 1982).

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Loneliness in Older Adults, Study Shows

Mindfulness

Mindfulness (Photo credit: Cathdew)

From the 24 July 2012 article at Science News Daily

For older adults, loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems — such as cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s — and death. Attempts to diminish loneliness with social networking programs like creating community centers to encourage new relationships have not been effective.

However, a new study led by Carnegie Mellon University’s J. David Creswell offers the first evidence that mindfulness meditation reduces loneliness in older adults. Published in Brain, Behavior & Immunity, the researchers also found that mindfulness meditation — a 2,500-year-old practice dating back to Buddha that focuses on creating an attentive awareness of the present moment — lowered inflammation levels, which is thought to promote the development and progression of many diseases. These findings provide valuable insights into how mindfulness meditation training can be used as a novel approach for reducing loneliness and the risk of disease in older adults.

“We always tell people to quit smoking for health reasons, but rarely do we think about loneliness in the same way,” said Creswell, assistant professor of psychology within CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “We know that loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems and mortality in older adults. This research suggests that mindfulness meditation training is a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults.”…

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workstation – Building a Bridge to a Lonely Colleague – NYTimes.com and Related Article about Lonliness in General

Workstation – Building a Bridge to a Lonely Colleague – NYTimes.com

From the 28 January article

IT’S lonely at the top, or so it is said. But in fact it doesn’t matter where a person is in the office hierarchy — employees at all levels become lonely, even when other workers are all around them….

Because it is part of the human condition, loneliness is often regarded as a personal problem. But managers may need to view it as an organizational issue as well, according to research by Professor Barsade and Hakan Ozcelik, an associate business professor at California State University, Sacramento.

In a recent study of more than 650 workers, the two researchers found that loneliness — as reported both by the sufferer and his or her co-workers — reduces an employee’s productivity. This was true on both individual and team-oriented tasks.

Just look at what loneliness can do to a person, and you’ll see why. “Loneliness tends to distort social cognition and influences an individual’s interpersonal behavior, resulting in increased hostility, negativity, depressed mood, increased anxiety, lack of perceived control and decreased cooperativeness,” Dr. Wright says.

Professor Barsade is investigating whether loneliness may also be “contagious,” the way she has found emotions like anger and happiness to be in the workplace…

Read the entire NY Times article 

 

Feeling Left Out? Being Ignored Hurts, Even By A Stranger

From the Fri Jan 27, 2012 Medical News Today article

Feeling like you’re part of the gang is crucial to the human experience. All people get stressed out when we’re left out. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that a feeling of inclusion can come from something as simple as eye contact from a stranger. Psychologists already know that humans have to feel connected to each other to be happy. A knitting circle, a church choir, or a friendly neighbor can all feed that need for connection. Eric D…

February 1, 2012 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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