Date of Award
Campus Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Jan E. Mutchler
Social relationships play a vital role in maintaining health and functioning in later life; however, much less is known about the consequences of lacking those social relationships. This research examines the independent effects of social isolation and loneliness on the risk of hypertension as well as on the diagnosis and management of this chronic condition, with particular attention paid to gender differences.
Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a series of binary logistic regression analyses are used to estimate the direct effect of isolation and loneliness on hypertension in Wave 9 (2008) and over a two year-period ending in Wave 10 (2010). In addition, the interactive effects of health behavior and depression are explored. A series of multinomial logistic regression analyses are used to estimate the effects of social isolation and loneliness on the likelihood of having undiagnosed or uncontrolled hypertension.
Results indicate that even controlling for loneliness, social isolation increases the odds of having hypertension among both men and women. These results also support the idea that social isolation is associated with increased odds of having undiagnosed or uncontrolled hypertension, specifically among women. Results from this study provide no consistent support for the notion that loneliness negatively effects hypertension.
In terms of social determinants of health, these results highlight the need for existing chronic disease management to be targeted to include socially isolated older adults. Health professionals may need to focus their efforts on detecting social isolation among their patients, and adjusting treatment plans to be most effective for this vulnerable population of older adults.
Coyle, Caitlin E., "The Effects of Loneliness and Social Isolation on Hypertension in Later Life: Including Risk, Diagnosis and Management of the Chronic Condition" (2014). Graduate Doctoral Dissertations. 174.