chapter  6
15 Pages

Health and social isolation

ByLUDWIEN MEEUWESEN

After life events and personal competences, this chapter focuses on the theme of health and its relation to social isolation. Common sense explains isolation with health-related factors next to causes such as character, age, unemployment and being single. Scientifically too, health is identified as one of the causes of isolation (see Section 2.4.2). In section 4.3.1 we saw that 30 per cent of the respondents (up to 68 per cent of the socially isolated) are bothered by serious chronic illness. As people feel more lonely and/or isolated, they indicate experiencing their health as less good. It has been known for longer that there is also a relation between health and social inequality (Mackenbach, 1994). Recent research has shown that health status is the main predictor for exclusion from society (Jehoel-Gijsbers, 2004). The degree to which people have personal competences at their disposal is also indicative of their health situation – the more reason to pay special attention to the role of health in the social well-being of people and vice versa. We will use a broad definition of health from the World Health Organization (WHO), which also emphasizes social health in its policy. The social functioning of people is seen in itself as either health-promoting or healthinhibiting.