How did household size & virtual contact impact anxiety levels associated with social distancing during COVID-19 in rural South Africa?

A study by researchers affiliated with the national study Health and Aging in Africa: Longitudinal Studies in South Africa (HAALSA) based on data from a phone survey reveals that although declines in social interaction were associated with increased anxiety levels among both men and women in rural South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic, women living in larger households seemed to be especially impacted. “For women, living in larger households may…

Quantifying mental health impacts of Covid-19 lockdowns among senior population in Turkey

Head shot of Onur Altindag

Visiting scientist (and former Harvard Bell Fellow) Onur Altindag, PhD, is an author on a new working paper that sets out to quantify the mental health effects experienced by those aged 65 years and older during a period of strict curfew imposed by the Turkish government in response to Covid-19.  

Geotagged tweets used to better assess urban mobility, neighborhood isolation in 50 U.S. cities

Findings of a research study show that even though residents of black and Hispanic neighborhoods traveled outside of their home neighborhoods, they were far less exposed to nonpoor or white middle-class neighborhoods than residents of primarily white neighborhoods, suggesting that segregation persists in some of the country’s largest cities. Two authors of the study—Mario L. Small, PhD, and Robert J. Sampson, PhD—are affiliated with the Harvard Pop Center.  

Study points to unmet need for social support among older women in rural South Africa

Researchers affiliated with the HAALSI research project have published a new study that found that older women in South Africa have weaker social network connections and are more socially isolated than men and younger women. Higher levels of widowhood and fewer connections outside of the family network are thought to explain this age- and gender-based difference.

Social isolation in adults linked with some less healthy behaviors

Bell Fellow Lindsay Kobayashi is lead author on a paper that has found those who are socially isolated are more likely to engage in some less healthy behaviors, such as not getting adequate exercise and not eating the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Those who report feeling lonely were less likely to successfully quit smoking.

Possible molecular link to stroke and dementia may be associated with level of social support

Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, PhD, and faculty member Joel Salinas, MD, are among the authors on a paper published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions that reveals that those with more social support were found to have higher serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is linked to reduced risk of dementia and stroke in certain subsets.