Healthplan Spain


Study Finds Limited Social Ties Increase Risk Of Early Mortality Health News

As the festive season approaches, a groundbreaking study underscores the crucial role of regular connections with loved ones in promoting an extended and healthier life.

Researchers advocate for turning holiday reunions into a year-round habit, as spending time with family and friends may significantly reduce the risk of premature death by 39 percent, according to recent findings.

Published in BMC Medicine, this comprehensive exploration delves into the combined impact of diverse social interactions on health outcomes. Examining two forms of loneliness and three types of social isolation, the study, conducted with over 458,000 participants as part of the UK Biobank study, reveals that each facet independently increases the risk of mortality.

The study assessed loneliness based on participants' ability to confide in someone close and the frequency of feeling lonely. Social isolation was evaluated through factors such as visits from friends or family, engagement in weekly group activities, and living arrangements. The results suggest that any degree of deprivation in the identified five types of social connections is linked to a higher risk of early death from any cause.

Following participants aged 40 to 69 for a minimum of 10 years, the research highlighted that individuals living alone with no regular visits faced a 39 percent higher risk of premature death compared to those regularly visited by family and friends. Intriguingly, engaging in group activities with non-loved ones did not alleviate this risk, emphasising the unique value of connections with close friends or family.

The study recommends even monthly interactions with loved ones to lower the risk, citing the potential for practical support and early identification of health issues within close relationships.

Medical professionals have praised the study for its thorough exploration of the complex interplay between social connections and health. Dr. Anthony Ong, a scholar at Cornell University commended the empirical basis of the findings and urged further research into enhancing specific types of social connections for isolated individuals.

While the study emphasises the need for additional research to unravel the reasons behind its findings, it proposes that social disconnection could contribute to poor immune function, cardiovascular issues, and stress. The authors acknowledge the necessity for multifaceted interventions to address the diverse components of social isolation.

In conclusion, the study underscores the importance of regular social interactions with loved ones and participation in group activities to promote overall well-being.

Social organisations, such as Amigos de los Mayores or Cruz Roja Española (Spanish Red Cross), often have programs or initiatives aimed at befriending and supporting individuals who may be socially isolated.

Additionally, local community centres, churches, or social services in various regions of Spain may offer similar programs. It's advisable to check with local authorities or conduct an online search for organisations in your specific area that provide companionship or befriending services.

Sources: CNN