Social Connection, Loneliness, and Social Burdens as Experienced by Participants in the WELL for Life Project

Placeholder Show Content



Background and objectives: Social connectedness is a key component of health and well-being, yet certain subdomains of social connectedness deserve closer attention in certain populations. This report examines three subdomains of social connectedness in different age and gender groups.
Research Design and methods: Participants (n=4043) completed an online survey as part of the Stanford WELL for Life project. The survey included 13 items tapping social connectedness. Factor analysis was used to construct three subscales from these items. Linear regressions were used to evaluate associations between age and scores on these subscales among all participants and stratified by gender. Transcripts from semi-structured interviews (n=102) in which participants described periods of high and low well-being were reviewed in order to further illuminate the regression results.
Results: Three sub-domains of social connectedness were identified: social support and belonging; loneliness; and social burdens. Female gender was significantly linked to greater experiences of social burdens. Qualitative data from interviews extended this finding: women were more likely to discuss experiences of being drained by helping care for others (particularly family) than men, though men talked more about difficulty in meeting others’ expectations. Older age was significantly linked with lower experiences of loneliness and more social connectedness regardless of gender.
Discussion and implications: Studies of social connectedness and well-being may benefit from including measures of social burdens. Interventions to improve the well-being of those with low social connectedness might focus on high loneliness among young people and high social burdens among women.


Type of resource text
Date created August 5, 2019


Author Crane, Steven Michael
Advisor Heaney, Catherine


Subject Stanford School of Medicine
Subject Community Health and Prevention Research
Subject Stanford Prevention Research Center
Subject Social Connectedness
Subject Social Support
Subject Gender
Subject Age
Subject Well-being
Genre Thesis

Bibliographic information

Access conditions

Use and reproduction
User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-SA).

Preferred citation

Preferred Citation
Crane, Steven Michael and Heaney, Catherine. (2019). Social Connection, Loneliness, and Social Burdens as Experienced by Participants in the WELL for Life Project. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Community Health and Prevention Research (CHPR) Master of Science Theses

View other items in this collection in SearchWorks

Contact information

Also listed in

Loading usage metrics...