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Loneliness, Social Network Size, and Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in College Freshmen

CITATION:  Pressman, S.D., Cohen, S., Miller, G. E., Barkin, A., Rabin, B. S., Treanor, J. J.  (2005) Loneliness, Social Network Size, and Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in College Freshmen. Health Psychology Vol. 24, No. 3, 297-306.

ABSTRACT:  Antibody response to the influenza immunization was investigated in 83 1st-semester healthy university freshmen. Elevated levels of loneliness throughout the semester and small social networks were independently associated with poorer antibody response to 1 component of the vaccine. Those with both high levels of loneliness and a small social network had the lowest antibody response. Loneliness was also associated with greater psychological stress and negative affect, less positive affect, poorer sleep efficiency and quality, and elevations in circulating levels of cortisol. However, only the stress data were consistent with mediation of the loneliness-antibody response relation. None of these variables were associated with social network size, and hence none were potential mediators of the relation between network size and immunization response.


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