A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

The Impact of Friendship on Health

Posted by | 5:58pm on Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships. 

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article on the healthcare blog of The New York Times about the often overlooked value of friendship on health.

“Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.”

Tara also discusses a new book, “The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a 40-Year Friendship”, where Jeffrey Zaslow tells the story of 11 childhood friends who scattered from Iowa to eight different states but still kept their friendships firm over 40 years.  Two of the woman developed breast cancer.  One of these woman reported feeling more comfortable discussing her illness with her girlfriends than her doctor.

It does make sense when I think about that — after all, don’t we all choose as our friends people with whom we can talk about anything? Does this mean that the early morning coffee I have every Friday with five of my friends counts as a health benefit?  Is it as good as working out?

In 2006, a study of nearly 3,000 nurses with breast cancer found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. The proximity and the amount of contact with a friend weren’t associated with survival, but in fact just having friends was protective for these women.  For men, there appear to be benefits too.  According to a study of 736 Swedish men, having a partner didn’t affect the risk of a heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did.

“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.

Given how important friendship is to health care, how does this work when someone is really sick?  How does having a rare disorder impact friendships?

To stay connected with this conversation and receive alerts on new postings, please subscribe via RSS, or sign up for our monthly newsletter, Adventures in eMarketing, to receive a roundup of the toprated blog posts, associated reading lists and relevant insights.

(Image courtesy of Gwennypics via Flickr)

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

View other posts from Wendy

Siren Interactive
  • Siren Interactive
  • Rare Disease Relationship Marketing Experts
  • 626 West Jackson Blvd, Suite 100
  • Chicago, IL 60661
  • 312.204.6700
  • 866.502.6714 (Toll Free)
  • www.sireninteractive.com