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A multi-study investigation of social connectedness and health

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Abstract

Background: Aims of this multi-study investigation were to expand the research on social connectedness (Lee & Robbins, 1995, 1998) to investigate associations with physical health indices. A multi-study approach was utilized to identify independent associations of social connectedness with somatic distress and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and to apply belongingness and loneliness theoretical frameworks to reveal potential pathways from social connectedness to health. Methods: Social connectedness and somatic symptoms severity were measured in a sample of college students (Study 1, N = 486) and replicated with HRQOL outcomes in a sample of individuals with ongoing symptoms of chronic illness (Study 2, N = 225). The third study added loneliness and stress measures and focused on HRQOL as an outcome (Study 3, N = 280).Results: Social connectedness consistently emerged as a significant and independent predictor of HRQOL and somatic symptom severity, with standardized coefficients ranging from − 0.22 for somatic distress to 0.28 for physical functioning, and 0.24–0.26 for general health. In Study 3, mediation findings showed that stress partially explained the connection between social connectedness and HRQOL. Conclusions: Findings suggest that a sense of self as being more connected with the social world is important for physical health, with this relationship partially accounted for by stress. Addressing social connectedness may be an important consideration in health research and practice.

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The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank John Copeland, Mikaela Raley, and Sonya Whittaker for their contributions in data collection in this research series.

Funding

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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The first author contributed to the study conception and design and material preparation and data collection. Analysis and the first draft of the manuscript were completed by both authors. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lori J. Lange.

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Approval for all studies was granted by the Institutional Review Board of the University of North Florida and performed in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the present study.

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The authors have no known conflict of interest to disclose.

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Lange, L.J., Crawford, A.B. A multi-study investigation of social connectedness and health. Curr Psychol 43, 20014–20023 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-024-05791-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-024-05791-2

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