Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy

Debra Umberson, Jennifer Karas Montez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

846 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. Sociologists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcomes, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variation (e.g., by gender and race) at the population level. Studies show that social relationships have short- and long-term effects on health, for better and for worse, and that these effects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health. This article describes key research themes in the study of social relationships and health, and it highlights policy implications suggested by this research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S54-S66
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Volume51
Issue number1_suppl
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

Keywords

  • cumulative disadvantage
  • relationships
  • social integration
  • social support
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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