Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Health Sciences

Advisor(s)

Audrey Burnett

Abstract

Loneliness is common in the majority of first-semester college students, but if left unaddressed, long-term loneliness may cause physical health problems. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between perceived loneliness and physical health among college freshmen at James Madison University using a Qualtrics survey. The relationship between loneliness and health was assessed using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) to gauge physical health and the UCLA Loneliness Survey (UCLA-LS) to gauge perceived loneliness. Contrary to the hypothesis, results indicated there was no relationship between loneliness and physical health. It was thought the BRFSS was a limitation in this study. Additionally, two branches of social support, quality and quantity of friendships, were investigated for their influence on loneliness. Because past research suggested social support may help buffer loneliness, which may prevent the subsequent emergence of other health problems, the present study sought to investigate the quality and quantity of friendships using the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (SSS). Results comparing loneliness scores among the two sections of SSS scores indicated both branches were predictors of loneliness. Of the two, the quality of social support was the most significant indicator of loneliness as indicated by its mean p-value (M = 0.0003, SD = 0.0004), but further research must be conducted to verify this. The results of the social support investigation stress the importance of enhancing quality of friendships to reduce loneliness. The results for the physical health investigation warrant further research and the use of a better survey instrument to more comprehensively analyze physical health to compare with loneliness.

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