Researchers have examined social relationships as a basic need, showing that being well integrated in a network of social ties is related to various positive health outcomes including reduced mortality and risk behavior (e.g. reduced alcohol consumption). Conversely, a lack of strong social ties is related to negative outcomes including depression, suicide, and substance use (Berkman & Syme, 1979; Durkheim, 1951; Sarason, Sarason, & Gurung, 2001). Loneliness, a negative affective experience resulting from relationship deficits, is related to similar health outcomes as social isolation including depression and problematic alcohol use (Cacioppo, Hawkley, Crawford et al., 2002). However, research to date examining loneliness and health behavior has predominantly employed cross-sectional measures (e.g. UCLA Loneliness Scale; Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980), therefore failing to capture more fluctuating experiences of and responses to loneliness which may signify maladaptive patterns of coping behavior (Hawkley, Burleson, Bernston, & Cacioppo, 2003; Shankur, McMunn, Banks, & Steptoe, 2011). The purpose of this present study was to examine responses to daily loneliness (i.e. social and solitary alcohol consumption) as a function of social integration and gender, through a secondary analysis of data collected in a larger daily process study. Results indicated that daytime loneliness predicted evening increases in solitary consumption and decreases in social consumption. Further, these within-person effects were influenced by gender and social integration. These findings provide a unique understanding of specific processes by which social relationships, or the perceived lack thereof, influence health and more specifically, mood-related health behavior.
ProQuest Document View – Perceived Isolation, Social Integration, and Health Behavior: A Daily Process Examination of Responses to Loneliness