Social isolation from childhood to young adulthood:Identifying patterns of stability & change for a better understanding of later health & functioning

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Social Genetic and Dev Psychiatry Centre


Positive social relationships, particularly at a young age,
are critical for later health and wellbeing. Social isolation
occurs when there is a severe lack or absence of social
relationships and interpersonal connections. This isolation
has been explored in older populations and has been
associated with implications for both mental and physical
health. There has been little focus on the impact of
prolonged social isolation in childhood, at a stage of life
where emotional and behavioral development is shaped for
later years. Research has shown that there is a substantial
genetic predisposition for social isolation, thus longitudinal
assessment of social isolation in childhood whilst
controlling for genetic influence is needed. This approach
can help clarify the impact that social isolation has on later
life outcomes in four key domains of mental health,
physical health-related behaviours, educational attainment
and employment, and criminal offending. The use of the
Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study of 2232 twin
pairs assessed at ages 5, 7, 10, 12 and 18 years will
provide valuable information on social isolation at various
time points throughout childhood and assess how these
relate to health outcomes at age 18. Results from the
proposed project will help inform interventions and coping
strategies at an early age to help reduce social isolation in
young children and subsequently reduce the likelihood of
mental and physical health problems in later life.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2435017 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2020 31/10/2023 Katherine Nina Thompson