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Loneliness and social isolation

Guest Editors:

Feifei Bu: University College London, UK
Thomas K.M. Cudjoe: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
Michelle H. Lim: School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia
Harry Owen Taylor: University of Toronto, Canada


BMC Public Health had launched a collection which called for submissions on loneliness and social isolation as a public health concern. Although loneliness and social isolation are commonly misconstrued as conditions existing on an individual scale, these are global public health issues which are linked to various physical and mental conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression and a weakened immune system. These social conditions are mildly correlated and can occur at the same time but they are not mutually exclusive as a socially isolated person is not always lonely and conversely a person experiencing loneliness is not necessarily socially isolated.

Meet the Guest Editors

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Feifei Bu: University College London, UK

Dr Feifei Bu is a senior research fellow in Statistics/Epidemiology at the Department of Behavioural Science and Health, UCL. Her research focuses on the impact of social and cultural factors on health, including loneliness and social isolation. She has a strong interest in administrative data and statistical methods.


 

Thomas K.M. Cudjoe: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA

Dr Thomas K.M. Cudjoe is the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Endowed Professor, Assistant Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore. He leverages community-based strategies, mixed-methods and human centered design to understand and address social isolation. Additionally, he has led studies that examined the prevalence of social isolation among older adults and associations between social isolation and health outcomes. Dr Cudjoe also serves on the Scientific Advisory Council for the Foundation for Social Connection. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and on Good Morning America.

Michelle H. Lim: School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia

Dr Michelle Lim is the Chief Scientific Advisor and Chairperson for Ending Loneliness Together a national Australia network made up of universities and industry partners. Dr Lim is recognised as Australia’s leading scientific expert on loneliness and the lead author of the Australian Loneliness Report (2018) and the Young Australian Loneliness Survey (2019). Her work informs the Australian government, not-for-profit, and corporate sector. Her findings notes that one in four Australians aged 12 to 89 report problematic levels of loneliness. Dr Lim also cofounded the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection, an international coalition of organisations across 12 countries committed to ending the pressing global issue of loneliness and social isolation. She was the inaugural co-director of the global not-for-profit organisation in 2020-2022 and now the deputy co-chair of the international scientific advisory board (2023-present).

Harry Owen Taylor: University of Toronto, Canada

Dr Harry Owen Taylor’s research addresses the prevalence, risk factors, and associative health outcomes of social isolation and loneliness among older adults, with specific emphasis on Black Americans. His research increases public awareness of these factors and is poised to inform risk assessments, intervention programs, and policies to mitigate the adverse health effects of isolation and loneliness.  He has received extramural funding for his research from the National Institute of Aging, and his research has been published in peer-reviewed outlets.  His work has also been featured in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Public Health Post, Aging Today, Wired.com, and US News and World Reports.

About the collection

Although loneliness and social isolation are commonly misconstrued as conditions existing on an individual scale, these are global public health issues which are linked to various physical and mental conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression and a weakened immune system. These social conditions are mildly correlated and can occur at the same time but they are not mutually exclusive as a socially isolated person is not always lonely and conversely a person experiencing loneliness is not necessarily socially isolated. 

There is an urgent need to unravel the drivers of these social conditions, to develop interventions to tackle them and to understand which sub-populations of society are at a greater risk of persistent and high levels of loneliness. 

BMC Public Health had launched a collection which called for submissions on loneliness and social isolation as a public health concern and welcomed submissions on:

  • Evidence-based loneliness programmes and interventions
  • Protective measures against loneliness and social isolation
  • Social factors contributing to loneliness and social isolation such as housing, poverty, education and inequality
  • Mitigating the effects of loneliness and social isolation
  • Responses to loneliness and social isolation in the Covid-19 pandemic 
  • Health risks of loneliness and social isolation
  • Public awareness campaigns dealing with stigma and stereotypes around loneliness
  1. Chile did not adopt general and unified lockdowns for the whole nation but organized itself with dynamic and sometimes irregular lockdowns. These dynamics and consequences of social isolation could be generali...

    Authors: Alessandra Patrono, Stefano Renzetti, Cristian Guerini, Mark Macgowan, Stefanny M Moncada, Donatella Placidi, Maurizio Memo and Roberto G. Lucchini
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:599
  2. Loneliness is more common in older adults and those who face structural vulnerabilities, including homelessness. The homeless population is aging in the United States; now, 48% of single homeless adults are 50...

    Authors: Yeqing Yuan, Kelly R. Knight, John Weeks, Stephen King, Pamela Olsen and Margot Kushel
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:569
  3. Hikikomori refers to the extreme isolation of individuals in their own homes, lasting at least six months. In recent years social isolation has become an important clinical, social, and public health problem, ...

    Authors: Francisca Correia Lopes, Mariana Pinto da Costa, Cesar I Fernandez-Lazaro, Francisco J Lara-Abelenda, Victor Pereira-Sanchez, Alan R Teo and Miguel Angel Alvarez-Mon
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:518
  4. This study examined the relationship between loneliness and bedtime procrastination among Chinese university students, the mediating effects of COVID-19 risk perception and self-regulatory fatigue, and connect...

    Authors: Cheng Xu, Nongying Lin, Zhiyu Shen, Zhaoyang Xie, Duo Xu, Jingdong Fu and Wenhua Yan
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:491
  5. Epidemiological studies have shown that social isolation, which is prevalent in older adults, is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, but the prevalence of and trends in regard to social isolati...

    Authors: Yanwei Lin, Tingting Zhu, Xiaoyan Zhang and Zhirong Zeng
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:339
  6. Alleviating loneliness and fostering social connections and a sense of belonging are essential for individuals’ well-being in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteering has emerged as a potential str...

    Authors: Tara Williams, Ali Lakhani and Evelien Spelten
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:269
  7. The negative effects of loneliness on population health and wellbeing requires interventions that transcend the medical system and leverage social, cultural, and public health system resources. Group-based soc...

    Authors: Laura Coll-Planas, Aina Carbó-Cardeña, Anu Jansson, Vladimira Dostálová, Alzbeta Bartova, Laura Rautiainen, Annika Kolster, Montse Masó-Aguado, Laia Briones-Buixassa, Sergi Blancafort-Alias, Marta Roqué-Figuls, Ashby Lavelle Sachs, Cristina Casajuana, Uwe Siebert, Ursula Rochau, Sibylle Puntscher…
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:172
  8. Addressing loneliness and social isolation among older adults remains a public health priority. The restrictions enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic simultaneously heightened the need for services to overcom...

    Authors: Elisabeth Grey, Fran Baber, Estelle Corbett, David Ellis, Fiona Gillison and Julie Barnett
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:108
  9. The Omicron pandemic struck Shanghai, China, resulting in impairments of both physical and psychological health on those patients who were confirmed and transferred to the Fangcang shelters. The way of isolati...

    Authors: Wenjie Yan, Zhilei Shang, Lili Wu, Hongli Lv, Yanpu Jia, Jingye Zhan, Jing Wang, Hui Ouyang, Weizhi Liu and Wenfang Chen
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:21
  10. Lack of social support is a known predictor of the prognosis after acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Although as a common factor associated with social support, there are limited data on long-term prognostic ...

    Authors: Yu Jiang, Jin-Gang Yang, Hai-Yan Qian and Yue-Jin Yang
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2024 24:14
  11. Loneliness can have a detrimental impact on health, yet little is known about the association between disability and loneliness.

    Authors: Eric Emerson, Roger J. Stancliffe, Zoe Aitken, Jodie Bailie, Glenda M. Bishop, Hannah Badland, Gwynnyth Llewellyn and Anne M. Kavanagh
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2023 23:2537
  12. There is conclusive evidence of a multifaceted and bidirectional relationship between loneliness and depression and anxiety. Nonetheless, more extensive research is needed to examine their relationships at a m...

    Authors: Mengyuan Yang, Wenwen Wei, Lei Ren, Zhaojun Pu, Yuanbei Zhang, Yu Li, Xinhong Li and Shengjun Wu
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2023 23:2499
  13. Loneliness is a significant public health concern due to its detrimental impact on health and wellbeing. Despite people with disability reporting higher levels of loneliness than the general population, there ...

    Authors: Jodie Bailie, Glenda M. Bishop, Hannah Badland, Eric Emerson, Zoe Aitken, Roger Stancliffe, Kanchana Ekanayake and Gwynnyth Llewellyn
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2023 23:2361
  14. Loneliness has been recognized as a public health issue and has moved into a number of European countries’ policy agendas. Literature examining loneliness in young people (and especially in adolescents) is sca...

    Authors: Sylke V. Schnepf, Michela Boldrini and Zsuzsa Blaskó
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2023 23:1917
  15. Living alone has been positively associated with the prevalence of depressive symptoms. We examined how a combination of living alone and pet ownership relates to depressive symptoms.

    Authors: Haruka Miyake, Yosuke Inoue, Hiroko Okazaki, Toshiaki Miyamoto, Masafumi Eguchi, Takeshi Kochi, Isamu Kabe, Aki Tomizawa, Ami Fukunaga, Shohei Yamamoto, Maki Konishi, Seitaro Dohi and Tetsuya Mizoue
    Citation: BMC Public Health 2023 23:1769