Op-ed: Why Combatting Loneliness is Critical

May 12, 2018

Recent research has uncovered the potentially devastating health effects of loneliness and social isolation, including a global rise in suicide, alcoholism-related liver disease, and addiction. In a May 8, 2018 op-ed in the Boston Globe, co-authors Michelle Williams and Jeremy Nobel said that combating loneliness should be a public health priority.

Williams, Dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Nobel, a faculty member of the Center for Primary Care at Harvard Medical School and founder of the UnLonely Project, noted that “loneliness can have long-term effects on health and is as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” They called for continued media coverage of the topic and stronger efforts by medical and public health professionals to address loneliness both in research and in practice. In addition, they wrote, “the critical nature of social relationships should be included in national public health priorities, taking its place with obesity, substance abuse, and physical inactivity.”

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