Loneliness Is Now a National Health Problem

Joe Scudder
Written by Joe Scudder

Cigna, a global health service company, actually calls loneliness an epidemic in America.

I’m not sure if it is helpful to think of loneliness as an epidemic because I don’t think loneliness is a disease. Cigna points out loneliness is a risk factor in health problems. But Cigna’s business would lead them in the direction of a disease analogy.

Nor am I optimistic that companies can help combat loneliness in their employees. Nothing is more isolating than to be singled out for bureaucratic help.

But as individuals, perhaps this study will make us aware of a problem a lot of Americans have. We can each try to alleviate the problem in those we care about.

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Cigna released a report: “New Cigna Study Reveals Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America.

Today, global health service company Cigna released results from a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States. The survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm, Ipsos, revealed that most American adults are considered lonely.

The evaluation of loneliness was measured by a score of 43 or higher on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness, as well as social isolation. The UCLA Loneliness Scale is a frequently referenced and acknowledged academic measure used to gauge loneliness.

The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed some alarming findings:

Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).

One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.

Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).

One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).

Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.

Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.

Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.

Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).

Read the full report.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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