Social support mediates loneliness and Human Herpesvirus type 6 (HHV-6) antibody Titers

Denise Dixon, Stacy Cruess, Kristin Kilbourn, Nancy Klimas, Mary Ann Fletcher, Gail Ironson, Andrew Baum, Neil Schneiderman, Michael H. Antoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The current study investigated the impact of a severe environmental stressor and the role that declining social integration played in mediating its effect on loneliness and immune status. Increased loneliness and decreased social support in the months following the stressor (storm) were significantly associated with increased HHV-6 antibody titers, reflecting poorer control over the virus. Poorer social integration mediated the relationship between loneliness and HHV-6, even after controlling for nonspecific polyclonal B-cell activation, disease status (CD3+CD4+ cell counts), living arrangements, acute social losses (bereavement), and potential disruptions in social-support resources. These findings suggest that specific elements of social support may explain the oft-noted negative effects of loneliness on the immune system, and generalized to a medically vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1132
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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