B – Social relationships are key to health

The PLoS Medicine Editors. Social relationships are key to health, and to health policy. PloS Med 2010;7(8):e1000334
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000334)

Evidence from observational studies has documented the association between social relationships and beneficial effects on health outcomes, such as mortality. A systematic review, published in PLos Medicine in July 2010, retrieved data from a large body of literature and reported that stronger relationships were associated with a 50% increased chance of survival over the course of the studies. Quite remarkably, the degree of mortality associated with lack of social relationships is similar to that existing for more widely publicized risk factors, such as smoking. However, the mechanisms through which social relationships affect health are unclear. This doesn’t allow to design effective social interventions at a population level that will result in improved health outcomes.