The Wellness Corporation® Notifications
Loneliness in America: Study Reports Decrease in Social Connectedness
In a survey recently published in the American Sociological Review, researchers found that Americans on average have fewer close relationships than ever before. The survey, conducted by Lynn Smith-Lovin and her colleagues at Duke University and the University of Arizona, was an attempt to determine how our levels of social connectedness have changed over the past 20 years. A national survey, done in 1985, found that we have about three close relationships – those people in our lives with whom we can share intimate thoughts, rely upon for help when we are in trouble, and who are considered, whether family or friends, to be closely engaged in our lives “through thick and thin”. This survey was replicated in 2004. It found that on average we now have only about two close relationships. The survey also found that a quarter of us have no close confidants.
"Friendship, good social relations and strong supportive networks improve health at home, at work and in the community. Social support and good social relations make an important contribution to health. Social support helps give people the emotional and practical resources they need. Belonging to a social network of communication and mutual obligation makes people feel cared for, loved, esteemed and valued. This has a powerful protective effect on health. Supportive relationships may also encourage healthier behavior patterns. Support operates on the levels both of the individual and of society. Social isolation and exclusion are associated with increased rates of premature death and poorer chances of survival after a heart attack. People who get less social and emotional support from others are more likely to experience less well-being, more depression, a greater risk of pregnancy complications and higher levels of disability from chronic diseases." (The Social Determinants of Health, Second Addition, World Health Organization)
Many have speculated about the impact of societal changes that have brought about this decrease in connectedness. These changes include: the rise of the two parent working family; the isolating effects of TV, video games and the Internet; the increase in suburban sprawl and reliance upon the automobile; work environments in which there are long working hours, long commutes to and from work, and high job turnover.
Though the effects of societal change impact all of us to one degree or another, there are things that each of us can do to combat social isolation. Make social connectedness a priority. Time spent watching TV and surfing the Internet does not contribute to our levels of social connectedness. Be a "joiner". Clubs, neighborhood and special interest groups, athletics, political involvement, religious and spiritual activities all create opportunities for social connections. The more we place ourselves in these situations, the more likely that close personal relationships will develop from them.
Social isolation can lead to both physical and psychological problems. Assess your level of social isolation. Your Employee Assistance Program can help! For consultation regarding all sorts of problems call: +1-800-828-6025.Maintained by firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: January 22, 2009 16:02:15