Loneliness and Social Isolation

August 3, 2018 – Volume 28, Issue 28
Do they pose a growing health epidemic? By Christina L. Lyons


[1] Veronique de Turenne, “The pain of chronic loneliness can be detrimental to your health,” UCLA Newsroom, Dec. 21, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/yb5474mu.

[2] “Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index: Survey of 20,000 Americans Examining Behaviors Driving Loneliness in the United States,” 2018, p. 1, https://tinyurl.com/y6ue3pv6.

[3] Vivek Murthy, “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic,” Harvard Business Review, September 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yaydwpxu. Also see Erin Schumaker, “What A Surgeon General Learned From the Opioid Crisis Could Help Fight Loneliness,” The Huffington Post, Oct. 9, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/ybsyxr5b.

[4] “PM commits to government-wide drive to tackle loneliness,” press release, Prime Minister's Office, gov.uk, Jan. 17, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ya8uqse3.

[5] Louise C. Hawkley et al., “Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults,” Psychology and Aging, March 2010, https://tinyurl.com/y8o6vj9z; Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy B. Smith, “Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for CVD: implications for evidence-based patient care and scientific inquiry,” Heart, July 2016, https://tinyurl.com/y7xbngz8; Carla M. Perissinotto, Irena Stijacic Cenzer and Kenneth E. Covinsky, “Loneliness in Older Persons: A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death,” Archives of Internal Medicine, June 18, 2012, https://tinyurl.com/yd9oazfq. Also see J.T. Cacioppo and L.C. Hawkley, “Perceived social isolation and cognition,” Trends in Cognitive Science, October 2009, https://tinyurl.com/ybgsp3p7; Raheel Mushtaq et al., “Relationship Between Loneliness, Psychiatric Disorders and Physical Health? A Review on the Psychological Aspects of Loneliness,” Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, September 2014, https://tinyurl.com/yc873god; Julianne Holt-Lunstad et al., “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review,” Perspectives on Psychological Science, March 11, 2015, https://tinyurl.com/y8lvol55; Louise C. Hawkley and John T. Cacioppo, “Loneliness Matters: A theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms,” Annals of Behavioral Medicine, October 2010, https://tinyurl.com/yd9pf3zw.

[6] Kim Parker and Renee Stepler, “As U.S. marriage rate hovers at 50%, education gap in marital status widens,” Pew Research Center, Sept. 14, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yargyuc7. Renee Stepler, “Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America's 50+ population,” Pew Research, March 9, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/zvogsl5. “Average Number of Own Children Under 18 Per Family, By Type of Family: 1955 to Present,” “Historical Families Tables: Table FM-3,” U.S. Census Bureau, https://tinyurl.com/ycsodvv8; “Historical Living Arrangements of Adults,” U.S. Census Bureau, November 2017, https://tinyurl.com/y735t6lc.

[7] Nick McCrea, “Mainer to tell Senate about crippling effects loneliness can have on elderly,” Bangor Daily News, April 26, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yb9mbh3a.

[8] E. J. Dionne, “Is American getting lonelier?” The Washington Post, Aug. 6, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/y9fjyr75.

[9] Sara Konrath, “Americans are becoming more socially isolated, but they're not feeling lonelier,” The Conversation, May 7, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/yaucjxhr.

[10] John Cacioppo, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection (2008); Rhitu Chatterjee, “Americans Are a Lonely Lot, And Young People Bear the Heaviest Burden,” NPR, May 1, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y8rbn7e9.

[11] Laura Entis, “Chronic Loneliness Is a Modern-Day Epidemic,” Fortune, June 22, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/zejfn37.

[12] “What We Do Together: The State of Associational Life in America,” Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, pp. 3, 37, https://tinyurl.com/ycbynqtd; Andrew Perrin and JingJing Jiang, “About a quarter of U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online,” Pew Research Center, March 14, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y7ccewbv.

[13] Lynda Flowers et al., “Medicare Spends More on Socially Isolated Older Adults,” AARP, November 2017, https://tinyurl.com/y8o6rdjm.

[14] Kerstin Gerst-Emerson and Jayani Jayawardhana, “Loneliness as a Public Health Issue: The Impact of Loneliness on Health Care Utilization Among Older Adults,” American Journal of Public Health, May 2015, https://tinyurl.com/ycgwcbr5.

[15] “Do these genes make me lonely? Study finds loneliness is a heritable trait,” Science, Sept. 20, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/gtcpobm.

[16] Murthy, op. cit.

[17] Ibid.

[18] See Stephanie Cacioppo et al., “Loneliness: Clinical Import and Interventions,” Perspectives on Psychological Science, March 2015, https://tinyurl.com/ybuc2y2p.

[19] Dan Russell, Letitia A. Peplau and Mary L. Ferguson, “Developing a measure of loneliness,” Journal of Personality Assessment, 1978, pp. 290–294; Dan Russell, Letitia A. Peplau and Carolyn E. Cutrona, “The Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale: Concurrent and Discriminant Validity Evidence,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1980, https://tinyurl.com/yb2c5rvr.

[20] Claude S. Fischer, “No Dinner Invitations?” Made in America, Sept. 22, 2010, https://tinyurl.com/y99fxtwl.

[21] David Ihrke, “United States Mover Rate at a New Record Low,” U.S. Census Bureau, Jan. 23, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yau2ox3e.

[22] Allison Slater Tate, “This freshman's video nails what loneliness in college feels like,” Today, Oct. 18, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yaq26lb7.

[23] “More social connection online tied to increasing feelings of isolation,” University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, March 6, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/huptmos.

[24] Jean M. Twenge, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic, September 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yd9pj5qu.

[25] D. Matthew T. Clark et al., “Declining Loneliness Over Time: Evidence From American Colleges and High Schools,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Nov. 24, 2014, https://tinyurl.com/y7q5x463.

[26] Feene Grosse Deters and Matthias R. Mehl, “Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment,” Social Psychological and Personality Science, Dec. 20, 2012, https://tinyurl.com/y7yt4bvw.

[27] Sarah DiGiulio, “Your Smartphone Is Changing the Human Race in Surprising Ways,” NBC News, April 12, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/y9yznlzp.

[28] Megan Gambino, “How Technology Makes Us Better Social Beings,” Smithsonian.com, July 10, 2011, https://tinyurl.com/y9m638gj; Monica Anderson et al., “Activism in the Social Media Age,” Pew Research Center, July 11, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y9hfvdr3.

[29] “Technology Addiction,” Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, undated, https://tinyurl.com/y8degrx9; Avi Selk and Emily Guskin, “The myth of the lonely video gamer playing in solitude is dead,” The Washington Post, March 9, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ycq33aq3.

[30] Martin Sundberg, “Online gaming, loneliness and friendships among adolescents and adults with ASD,” Computers in Human Behavior, February 2018, pp. 105–10, https://tinyurl.com/yataq8p7.

[31] Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Theodore F. Robles and David A. Sbarra, “Advancing Social Connection as a Public Health Priority in the United States,” American Psychological Association, September 2017, p. 519, https://tinyurl.com/yczk4ajx.

[32] “S. 670: Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017,” govtrack, https://tinyurl.com/y82eru5t.

[33] Murthy, op. cit.

[34] Hector Tobar, “Library lovers are less lonely, Pew Research Center report finds,” Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2014, https://tinyurl.com/y7fps4fl.

[35] Tim Adams, “John Cacioppo: ‘Loneliness is like an iceberg — it goes deeper than we can see,’” The Guardian, Feb. 28, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/jql9chd.

[36] Alexis de Tocqueville, “Chapter V: Of the Use Which the Americans Make of Public Association in Civil Life,” Democracy in America (1970 edition), pp. 99, 106–10.

[37] William Berry Lapham, Centennial History of Norway, Oxford County, Maine, 1786–1886 (1886), p. 218, https://tinyurl.com/y8u3p9hn. Also see Atul Gawande, Being Mortal (2014), p. 21.

[38] “Report of the Country Life Commission,” U.S. Senate, 1909, pp. 47, 6, https://tinyurl.com/ycmflvgu.

[39] Louis Wirth, “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” The American Journal of Sociology, July 1938, pp. 1–24, https://tinyurl.com/yazwewgp.

[40] Steven Ruggles, “The Transformation of American Family Structure,” American Historical Review, February 1994, pp. 102–103; Gawande, op. cit., pp. 22, 198; “Life expectancy in the USA, 1900–98,” Berkeley Demography, https://tinyurl.com/4kjakmd.

[41] Joseph Stromberg, “Eric Klinenberg on Going Solo,” Smithsonian Magazine, February 2012, https://tinyurl.com/ycvbshmq; Claude S. Fischer and Michael Hout, Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years (2006), p. 74. Maurice Robert Stein, The Eclipse of Community: An Interpretation of American Studies (1960), pp. 92, 329.

[42] Judith Shulevitz, “The Lethality of Loneliness,” The New Republic, May 13, 2013, https://tinyurl.com/zfwfz2y.

[43] John F. Kennedy, “Remarks on Proposed Measures to Combat Mental Illness and Mental Retardation,” The White House, Feb. 5, 1963, https://tinyurl.com/ybtsymea. Gerald N. Grob, “Public Policy and Mental Illnesses: Jimmy Carter's Presidential Commission on Mental Health,” The Milbank Quarterly, 2005, pp. 426–427.

[44] “The History of Nursing Homes,” Foundation Aiding the Elderly, undated, https://tinyurl.com/y8e6e8an.

[45] George H. Gallup, The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1936–1971. Putnam said, however, that the version of the “trust” question used in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s is not directly comparable to the one that became standard in later years.

[46] Daniel Bell and Virginia Held, “The Community Revolution,” The Public Interest (1969), p. 14; Norman M. Bradburn, The Structure of Psychological Well-Being (1969), https://tinyurl.com/ycq7fot2.

[47] Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness: American Culture at the Breaking Point (1970), p. 12, https://tinyurl.com/yaqlsp7u.

[48] Granville Hicks, “Rootless Americans,” The New York Times, Sept. 10, 1972, https://tinyurl.com/yahz864k.

[49] Robert Weiss, Loneliness: The Experience of Emotional and Social Isolation (1973), p. 1.

[50] Suzanne Gordon, Lonely in America (1976), p. 22.

[51] Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme, “Social Networks, Host Resistance, and Mortality: A Nine-Year Follow-Up Study of Alameda County Residents,” American Journal of Epidemiology, February 1979, https://tinyurl.com/ybldcuws.

[52] Carin Rubenstein and Philip Shaver, In Search of Intimacy: Surprising New Conclusions from a Nationwide Survey on Loneliness and What to Do About It (1982), https://tinyurl.com/yckx9jk3.

[53] Jane E. Brody, “Personal Health,” The New York Times, April 6, 1983, https://tinyurl.com/yde6oegs.

[54] Linda Wolfe, “Friendship in the City,” New York Magazine, July 18, 1983, p. 22, https://tinyurl.com/yad7kcky.

[55] William Ruberman, Eve Weinblatt, Judith Goldberg and Banvir Chaudhary, “Psychosocial Influences on Mortality after Myocardial Infarction,” The New England Journal of Medicine, Aug. 30, 1984, https://tinyurl.com/yaoz659b.

[56] Judith Shulevitz, “The Lethality of Loneliness,” The New Republic, May 13, 2013, https://tinyurl.com/zfwfz2y.

[57] Martha Lear, “Body and Mind; The Pain of Loneliness,” The New York Times, Dec. 20, 1987, https://tinyurl.com/ycd9u3jt.

[58] Ruggles, op. cit., p. 104.

[59] “Dying Alone: An interview with Eric Klinenberg,” University of Chicago Press, 2002, https://tinyurl.com/ybx572fb; Eric Klinenberg, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (2002), p. 15.

[60] C. Stoll, Silicon Snake Oil (1995); Robert Kraut et al., “Internet Paradox: A Social Technology That Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being?” American Psychologist, September 1998, p. 1018, https://tinyurl.com/n2p8rv6; J. E. Katz and P. Aspden, “A Nation of Strangers?” Communications of the ACM, 1997; and H. Rheingold, The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier (1993).

[61] Robert D. Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital,” Journal of Democracy, January 1995, pp. 65–78.

[62] Fischer and Hout, pp. 57, 63, 64. Putnam, ibid.

[63] James Lynch, A Cry Unheard: New Insights into the Medical Consequences of Loneliness (2000), p. 1.

[64] Fischer and Hout, op. cit., pp. 164–165, 244.

[65] Naomi I. Eisenberger, Matthew D. Lieberman and Kipling D. Williams, “Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Study of Social Exclusion,” Science, Oct. 10, 2003, https://tinyurl.com/gspmca6; Steve W. Cole et al., “Social regulation of gene expression in human leukocytes,” Genome Biology, Sept. 13, 2007, https://tinyurl.com/y9wuznpa.

[66] John Cacioppo, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection (2008), p. 5.

[67] Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin and Matthew E. Brashears, “Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks Over Two Decades,” American Sociological Review, 2006, vol. 71, p. 358; Fischer, Still Connected (2011), op. cit., p. 1.

[68] Keith Hampton et al., “Social Isolation and New Technology,” Pew Researcher Center, Nov. 4, 2009, https://tinyurl.com/k7xefem; “The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes,” Office of the Surgeon General, 2009, p. 1, https://tinyurl.com/y7yp9c7m.

[69] John Cacioppo and Stephanie Cacioppo, “Loneliness is a modern epidemic in need of treatment,” New Scientist, Dec. 30, 2014, https://tinyurl.com/jlxfxf5; John T. Cacioppo, Stephanie Cacioppo and Dorret I. Boomsma, “Evolutionary Mechanisms for Loneliness,” Cognitive Emotion, Sept. 25, 2013, https://tinyurl.com/ydddr97y; John Cacioppo and Stephanie Cacioppo, “Social Relationships and Health: The Toxic Effects of perceived Social Isolation,” Social and Personality Psychology Compass, Feb. 1, 2014, https://tinyurl.com/y8a2n3od; Christopher M. Masi et al., “A Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Reduce Loneliness,” Personality and Social Psychology Review, Aug. 17, 2010, https://tinyurl.com/y8kw3bpg.

[70] Murthy, op. cit.; Steven Ross Johnson, “Surgeon general: Entire community needs to tackle social factors of health,” Modern Healthcare, Dec. 6, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/y8yf7y6d.

[71] Sen. Susan M. Collins, opening statement in earing on “Aging Without Community: Consequences of Isolation and Loneliness,” U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, April 27, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yacjjb75.

[72] “What We Do Together: The State of Associational Life in America,” op. cit.

[73] Barry J. Jacobs, “Overcoming the Loneliness of Dementia Caregiving,” AARP, https://tinyurl.com/yapj4col.

[74] “U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Tammy Baldwin Praise Signage of Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act,” Senate Special Committee on Aging, Jan. 23, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y9xhclz6; Jo Ann Jenkins, “Caregiving Costly to Family Caregivers,” AARP, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/y8djz6jx.

[75] “Collins, Casey Bill to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Heads to President's Desk to be Signed into Law,” press release, Senate Special Committee on Aging, June 21, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ycdkr47w.

[76] “Connectedness as a Strategic Direction for the Prevention of Suicidal Behavior,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://tinyurl.com/y9p5lxup.

[77] Murthy, op. cit.

[78] Dan Buettner, “The Island Where People Forget to Die,” The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 24, 2012, https://tinyurl.com/yar2fmw7.

[79] Ceylan Yeginsu, “U.K. Appoints a Minister for Loneliness,” The New York Times, Jan. 17, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/yd4rczn6.

[80] “UK must tackle loneliness, says Jo Cox Commission report,” BBC News, Dec. 14, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/ybdlp724.

[81] “A Connected Scotland: Tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger social connections,” Government of Scotland, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y9f5suuu; Joanna Teuton, “Social isolation and loneliness in Scotland: a review of prevalence and trends,” Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y7txh2rl; Helen O'Callaghan, “All the lonely people: Epidemic of loneliness is leading to chronic health problems,” The Guardian, March 16, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ya66t4ln.

[82] Norimitsu Onishi, “A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death,” The New York Times, Nov. 30, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yctnjohb; Anna Fifield, “Cleaning Up After the Dead,” The Washington Post, Jan. 24, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y8usqxvo.

[83] Elif Batuman, “Japan's Rent-a-Family Industry,” The New Yorker, April 30, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y83kvrdt.

[84] Mei Fong, One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment (2016); Wanning Sun, “’My parents say hurry up and find a girl,’” The Guardian, Sept. 28, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/ydgzjnpt.

[85] “‘Lonely Deaths’ Haunt Middle-Aged Men More Than Other Age Groups,” Korea Bizwire, Dec. 4, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/yamg92h7.

[86] Isabella Steger, “Middle-aged men in South Korea are particularly at risk of dying alone,” Quartz, March 22, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ybazlalo.

[87] Chris Smyth and Louis Goddard, “Doctors using antidepressants to treat epidemic of loneliness,” The Times, July 21 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ybxu88ga.

[88] Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century (2009); Philipp Kuwert, Christine Knaevelsrud and Robert H. Pietrzak, “Loneliness Among Older Veterans in the United States: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study,” American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2014, https://tinyurl.com/y8jseeck; Aoife Hickey and Jason Crabtree, “Ageing and autism: loneliness and isolation,” Network Autism, Feb. 2, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y8sfo49r; Janna Anderson and Lee R. Rainie, “The Future of Well Being in a Tech-Saturated World: Concerns about the future of people's well-being,” Pew Research Center, April 17, 2018, p. 2.

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Document APA Citation
Lyons, C. L. (2018, August 3). Loneliness and Social Isolation. CQ researcher, 28, 657-680. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/
Document ID: cqresrre2018080308
Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2018080308
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