Published March 18, 2021
Kudos to PhD alum Christine Rine and PhD student Charles LaBarre on the publication of their editorial, "Research, practice, and policy strategies to eradicate social isolation" in Health & Social Work.
Rine, C., & LaBarre, C. (2020). Research, practice, and policy strategies to eradicate social isolation. [Editorial]. Health & Social Work.
The Grand Challenges for Social Work outlined by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) offer a multitude of opportunities for our profession to develop active responses for pressing societal ails. Each challenge charges social workers to engage in innovative and wide-reaching professional endeavors that span research, practice, and policy. Efforts for addressing the Grand Challenge ‘to “eradicate social isolation”’ rely on the uniquely ‘“social”’ dimension of our work pertinent to increasing and strengthening connections across diverse demographic groups (Lubben, Gironda, Sabbath, Kong, & Johnson, 2015). Although social isolation may sound like an innocuous concern, deficiencies in social connections have been associated with a host of sweeping and significant adverse psychosocial, mental, and physical health outcomes that are well documented across varied disciplines (Dickens et al., Richards, Greaves, & Campbell, 2011; Nicholson, 2012). Social isolation has been described as a “potent killer” (p. 3) that negatively impacts affects morbidity, mortality, mental health, psychological distress, health behaviors, loneliness, stress, disease, and disability (Lubben et al., 2015). Discrete age-specific affects have also been identified at both ends of the continuum. Among youths, social isolation is associated with increased risk for low self-esteem, behavioral problems, future health concerns, depressive symptoms, and suicide attempts. For older adults, social isolation is associated with increased risk for victimization, mistreatment, abuse, fraud, financial difficulties, poor mental health, intellectual and somatic problems, struggles with tasks of daily living, and succumbing to catastrophic events (Lubben et al., 2015). At the time of writing, social isolation is heightened by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and accompanying quarantine and social distancing guidelines (Brooke & Jackson, 2020).