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Sick children have less friends

Sick teenagers are more isolated than others, but they do not necessarily realise it and often think their friendships are stronger than they actually are.

Sick children have less friends

Sick teenagers are more isolated than others, but they do not necessarily realise it and often think their friendships are stronger than they actually are.

Studies have shown that health is both a cause and a consequence of how many friends you have and how many people you have to support you. People who have more friends and can get things from their friends like money or social support are healthier and live longer. However, little work has been done to examine if the health of people affect the size of people's social networks and their place in them. To examine how social networks themselves may be structured by health, researchers in the U.S. examined the results of a 1994-1996 survey of teenagers that asked them to name their friends. The study authors focused on 2,060 teenagers and explored the connections between them and their classmates.

Roughly, two-thirds of teenagers rated their health as excellent or very good. The researchers looked most closely at the other children - about a third of the total, who said their health was good, fair or poor. They might have suffered from conditions like asthma, obesity, deafness or blindness.

The less healthy teenagers were found to be in smaller networks over time compared to their healthier peers. The sick teenagers did not perceive themselves as having fewer friends and when asked to list their friends, they listed the same number of friends as the healthy ones did. But on asking the other children who they're friends with, they were much less likely to nominate the sick children as their friends showing that sick children tend to overstate how strong some of their friendships are. It was also found that the sicker children were 20 percent more likely to have no friends, which means that no one in the school listed them as one of their friends.

The researchers do not say which comes first for the unwell teenagers-isolation or poorer health but state that being sick can be taxing on friendships as it requires a lot of emotional support. This study offers insight into the role that health plays in the relationships between people.
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