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Socially isolated men and women had worse unadjusted survival curves than less socially isolated individuals. Cox models revealed that social isolation predicted mortality for both genders, as did smoking and high blood pressure. Among men, individual social predictors included being unmarried, participating infrequently in religious activities, and lacking club or organization affiliations; among women, significant predictors were being unmarried, infrequent social contact, and participating infrequently in religious activities.
The strength of social isolation as a predictor of mortality is similar to that of well-documented clinical risk factors. Our results suggest the importance of assessing patients’ level of social isolation.