Social relationships

Social relationships are increasingly recognised as being protective of health

Effects of social relationships

Social relationships are particularly important in increasing resilience and promoting recovery from illness in socio-economic circumstances that otherwise would be detrimental to health (1).

Data across 308,849 individuals, followed for an average of 7.5 years, indicates that individuals with adequate social relationships have a 50 per cent greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships. The magnitude of this effect is comparable with quitting smoking and it exceeds many well-known risk factors for mortality (eg, obesity and physical inactivity) (2).

Future trends

As we explore in the demography section, the number of people living in their own is predicted to rise significantly, particularly amongst older people.

At the same time, social relationships are broadening fast and we are becoming increasingly inter-connected through technological networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The impact of this on health is highly uncertain. Read more about this in our information technologies section.

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References

  1. Pevalin DJ, Rose D (2003) Social capital for health: Investigating the links between social capital and health using the British Household Panel Survey. London, Health Development Agency
  2. Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review