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Loneliness & Social Connection: Research & Resources

Published on:
May 5, 2023
Social connection has been identified as a priority by the U.S. Surgeon General whose recent advisory about the public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in the United States highlights a critical issue that is garnering national media attention from the Associated Press, NPR, PBS, The New York Times, Vox, and others, and one that Riggs Director of Research Katie Lewis, PhD, is researching and publishing about currently.

Austen Riggs Center Research Related to Loneliness

Two active studies, as part of our broader research efforts, are underway which employ smartphone-based experience sampling methods to evaluate changes in suicide risk over time. Rooted in the broader Riggs belief that relationships are instrumental in supporting long-term adaptive functioning and resilience, these studies examine how daily interpersonal exchanges, social perceptions and beliefs, and emotional functioning influence short-term changes in suicidal thoughts and impulses. These studies seek to advance understanding of the impact of relationships, emotional functioning, and health on short-term changes in suicide risk, with the goal of informing treatment and advancing clinical knowledge. 

Selected Riggs Studies Related to Loneliness

  • Lewis, K., Roche, M. J., Brown, F., Tillman, J. (2023). Intolerance of aloneness as a prospective predictor of suicidal ideation during COVID-19. Journal of Affective Disorders-Reports. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadr.2023.100469
  • Lewis, K., Roche, M. J., Brown, F., Tillman, J. (2022). Attachment, loneliness, and social connection as prospective predictors of suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic: a relational diathesis-stress experience sampling study. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. DOI: 10.1111/sltb.12922

Selected Presentations Related to Loneliness

Dr. Lewis has also presented findings related to these studies and recordings of those presentations are available to view (and receive free CE/CME credit for) here:

Additional Social Connection Resources from the U.S. Surgeon General

Help is Available

Loneliness can contribute to a variety of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and more. At the Austen Riggs Center, one of our core values is: “relationships are central in human life,” a principle that is applied to every facet of our treatment program.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with mental health issues and are looking for a different approach, please contact our admissions team to learn if Riggs might be a good fit.