Social isolation

Social isolation was the focus of a project between Bristol City Council and the Marmot team at the Institute of Health Equity, University College London.

The project’s research was included in the Public Health England publication: Reducing social isolation across the lifecourse.

Locally, social isolation amongst older people is being addressed by Bristol Ageing Better. Work is underway with partners, the National Lottery and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness to develop solutions that respond to local issues.

For more information see the Bristol Loneliness Summit 2017 page.

Why tackling social isolation is important

Social isolation can have physically and emotionally damaging effects resulting in:

  • depression
  • poor nutrition
  • decreased immunity
  • anxiety
  • fatigue and
  • social stigma.

Weak social connections carry a health risk that is:

  • more harmful than not exercising
  • twice as harmful as obesity and
  • comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.

Socially isolated older adults have:

  • longer stays in hospital
  • a greater number of GP visits and
  • are more dependent on homecare services.

Reports and recommendations from the Bristol project