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      Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women

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      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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          Abstract

          Both social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased mortality, but it is uncertain whether their effects are independent or whether loneliness represents the emotional pathway through which social isolation impairs health. We therefore assessed the extent to which the association between social isolation and mortality is mediated by loneliness. We assessed social isolation in terms of contact with family and friends and participation in civic organizations in 6,500 men and women aged 52 and older who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing in 2004-2005. A standard questionnaire measure of loneliness was administered also. We monitored all-cause mortality up to March 2012 (mean follow-up 7.25 y) and analyzed results using Cox proportional hazards regression. We found that mortality was higher among more socially isolated and more lonely participants. However, after adjusting statistically for demographic factors and baseline health, social isolation remained significantly associated with mortality (hazard ratio 1.26, 95% confidence interval, 1.08-1.48 for the top quintile of isolation), but loneliness did not (hazard ratio 0.92, 95% confidence interval, 0.78-1.09). The association of social isolation with mortality was unchanged when loneliness was included in the model. Both social isolation and loneliness were associated with increased mortality. However, the effect of loneliness was not independent of demographic characteristics or health problems and did not contribute to the risk associated with social isolation. Although both isolation and loneliness impair quality of life and well-being, efforts to reduce isolation are likely to be more relevant to mortality.

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          Most cited references11

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          Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades

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            Depression as an aetiologic and prognostic factor in coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of 6362 events among 146 538 participants in 54 observational studies.

            With negative treatment trials, the role of depression as an aetiological or prognostic factor in coronary heart disease (CHD) remains controversial. We quantified the effect of depression on CHD, assessing the extent of confounding by coronary risk factors and disease severity. Meta-analysis of cohort studies measuring depression with follow-up for fatal CHD/incident myocardial infarction (aetiological) or all-cause mortality/fatal CHD (prognostic). We searched MEDLINE and Science Citation Index until December 2003. In 21 aetiological studies, the pooled relative risk of future CHD associated with depression was 1.81 (95% CI 1.53-2.15). Adjusted results were included for 11 studies, with adjustment reducing the crude effect marginally from 2.08 (1.69-2.55) to 1.90 (1.49-2.42). In 34 prognostic studies, the pooled relative risk was 1.80 (1.50-2.15). Results adjusted for left ventricular function result were available in only eight studies; and this attenuated the relative risk from 2.18 to 1.53 (1.11-2.10), a 48% reduction. Both aetiological and prognostic studies without adjusted results had lower unadjusted effect sizes than studies from which adjusted results were included (P<0.01). Depression has yet to be established as an independent risk factor for CHD because of incomplete and biased availability of adjustment for conventional risk factors and severity of coronary disease.
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              Influences on Loneliness in Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                April 09 2013
                April 09 2013
                March 25 2013
                April 09 2013
                : 110
                : 15
                : 5797-5801
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1219686110
                3625264
                23530191
                264131c4-468a-489f-aa6e-49ec9a2b63c2
                © 2013
                History

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