Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Loneliness and Health

  • Louise C. HawkleyEmail author
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_812-3



Loneliness is a subjective experience of dissatisfaction with one’s social relationships that feels unpleasant or distressing. Loneliness is also termed “perceived social isolation” and, although correlated, is conceptually distinct from objective social isolation. Whereas objective isolation corresponds to being alone, perceived isolation corresponds to feeling alone. In the USA, as many as 80% of those under 18 years of age and 19–43% of adults over 65 years of age report being lonely at least sometimes. For as many as 15–30% of the general population, loneliness is a chronic state. Left untended, loneliness has serious consequences for physical and cognitive health and well-being.


Loneliness and Physical Health and Mortality

Loneliness has been associated with a range of poor physical health outcomes as early as childhood. Lonelier children 6–12 years of age suffer from more somatic symptoms, poorer sleep quality, and poorer general...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academic Research CentersNORC at the University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Martica H. Hall
    • 1
  • Michele L. Okun
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado, Colorado SpringsColorado SpringsUSA