Public Access Records Office
The National Academies
500 5th Street NW
Room KECK 219
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 334-3543
Project Information

Project Information

The Health and Medical Dimensions of Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults

Project Scope:

An ad hoc committee under the auspices of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will examine how social isolation and loneliness impact health outcomes in older adults aged 50 and older, particularly among low income, underserved, and vulnerable populations. The committee will :

 1.  Summarize and examine the evidence that social isolation and loneliness predict poor health outcomes and increase a person’s risk for premature morbidity, including evidence for:  

     a. Predictors of social isolation and loneliness

     b. Impact of social isolation and loneliness on cognitive, emotional, medical, and quality of life outcomes;  and

     c. Factors that moderate and mediate the links between social isolation/loneliness and health outcomes.

 2. Explore how social isolation and loneliness affect health care access and utilization.

 3. Make evidence-based recommendations on translating research into practice within the clinical setting that could facilitate progress in reducing the incidence and adverse health impacts of social isolation and loneliness among the low-income 50+ population. These recommendations will focus on the following issues:

     a. Opportunities and strategies for the identification of, prevention of, and interventions for social isolation and loneliness that can be incorporated into clinical environments that may include: social and environmental programs; the education of healthcare professionals; tools and methodologies that can be used in clinical settings; and public awareness.

     b. Current financing for social isolation and loneliness interventions and future opportunities.

 4. Examine avenues for translation and dissemination of new findings and communication of new information targeting healthcare practitioners.

Status: Current

PIN: HMD-HSP-17-25

Project Duration (months): 24 month(s)

RSO: Lustig, Tracy

Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Committee Post Date: 10/15/2018

Dan G. Blazer, II - (Chair)
(Chair) Dan G. Blazer, II, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., is a J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus and Professor of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University and also serves as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina. He is the author or co-author of over 180 books chapters, over 220 published abstracts, and nearly 500 peer-reviewed articles. He is also the editor or author of 40 books. Many of the book chapters and scientific articles are on the topics of late life depression, epidemiology, consultation liaison psychiatry, the interface between religion and psychiatry, and the epidemiology of substance use disorders. Most of his research projects have focused on the prevalence of physical and mental illness in the elderly. He has served as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Duke University Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly, the Piedmont Health Survey of the Elderly, and the MacArthur Field Studies of Successful Aging. He also was the original PI of the Duke Clinical Research Center for the Study of Depression in Late. Dr. Blazer is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine from which he received the Walsh McDermott Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service to the Academy.
Susan Beane
Susan Beane, M.D. is the vice president and medical director of Healthfirst, Inc., a nonprofit, managed-care organization that provides health care coverage to individuals and families in the New York City metropolitan area through low- or no-cost government-sponsored health insurance programs, including Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, Medicaid, and Medicare Advantage. Dr. Beane is a primary care physician and board-certified internist. She focuses on care management and clinical provider partnerships, especially programs designed to improve the delivery of vital, evidence-based health care to Healthfirst members. A current area of focus and collaboration for Dr. Beane is the impact of social determinants of health on the populations and communities served by Healthfirst. Prior to joining Healthfirst, Dr. Beane served as chief medical officer for the Affinity Health Plan for 5 years. Before that, she was medical director at AmeriChoice and HIP USA. Dr. Beane is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Cynthia M. Boyd
Cynthia M. Boyd, M.D., M.P.H. is Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and is a core faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health and the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care. Dr. Boyd is jointly appointed in the Department of Health Policy and Management and Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is trained in internal medicine, geriatric medicine and epidemiology. Her work has focused on person- and family-centered care for people with multiple chronic conditions in order to improve health and well-being, and includes epidemiological research, health services, research, systematic reviews, guidelines, and clinical trials. Dr. Boyd has focused on interventions to improve outcomes for older adults with multiple chronic conditions, through community-based and health care interventions.
Linda Burnes Bolton
Linda Burnes Bolton, Dr.P.H., R.N., FAAN is Senior Vice President for Nursing, Chief Nursing Executive at Cedars-Sinai. Her research, teaching and clinical expertise includes: nursing and patient care outcomes, improving organization performance, quality care, and cultural diversity within the health professions. Dr. Burnes Bolton is a past president of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, American Academy of Nursing and the National Black Nurses Association. She has provided leadership for several state and national programs including service as chair of the National Advisory committee of Transforming Care at the Bedside, Veteran Affairs Commission on Nursing and vice chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Burnes Bolton earned her bachelor’s of science degree in Nursing from Arizona State University. She completed her Master’s of Science degree in Nursing, Master in Public Health, and Doctorate in Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles.
George Demiris
George Demiris, Ph.D., FACMI, is a PIK (Penn Integrates Knowledge) University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania with joint appointments in the School of Nursing and the Perelman School of Medicine. He focuses his research on the use of information technology to support older adults and their family caregivers and explore innovative solutions to promote independent aging and patient and family engagement. One area of his research includes the use of behavioral sensing, “smart home” and “Internet of Things” technologies to promote independence for community dwelling older adults and their families. Such emerging technologies introduce challenges and opportunities in terms of engaging older adults in decision making, making sense of vast amounts of data and promoting effective data visualizations as well as addressing ethical considerations.
Nancy J. Donovan
Nancy J. Donovan, M.D. is a board-certified geriatric psychiatrist and is Chief of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She has special interests in the medicine-psychiatry interface and geriatric medicine and psychiatry. Dr. Donovan studies the connection between neuropsychiatric symptoms and their underlying biological substrate, including the association between a number of emotional and behavioral symptoms (such as loneliness) and preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease. She received her medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed psychiatric residency training at Stanford University Medical Center. She is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and previously served on the clinical faculties of the University of Medicine and Dentistry - New Jersey Medical School, and the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Robert Espinoza
Robert Espinoza, M.P.A. is the Vice President of Policy at PHI, an organization focused on the direct care workforce, where he oversees its national policy advocacy, research, and strategic communications division. For more than 20 years, Mr. Espinoza has spearheaded high-profile advocacy campaigns and written landmark reports on aging and long-term care, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, racial justice, and immigration, among other topics. Prior to PHI, he served as the Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE, the country’s premier organization for LGBT older adults. In 2010, he co-founded the Diverse Elders Coalition, a historic, federal coalition focused on improving aging supports for communities of color and LGBT communities. Robert received his MPA, with honors, from New York University, and his BA in English and BS in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Colleen Galambos
Colleen Galambos, Ph.D., ACSW, LCSW-C, FGSA is the Helen Bader Endowed Chair in Applied Gerontology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and joined the faculty at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare in 2018. She is a Center Scientist with the Center for Aging and Translational Research and a Member of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin. She currently serves as Chair of the National Association of Social Workers Aging Practice Section Committee and Secretary General of the North American Chapter of the International Society of Gerontechnology. Dr. Galambos’ practice experience includes clinical, administrative, policy, and research positions in a variety of health and long term care organizations. She is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and a National Association of Social Workers Pioneer. Dr. Galambos was previously a professor at the University of Missouri where she was associate director for research in the School of Social Work and directed a certificate program and interdisciplinary graduate minor in gerontology. She is the author of three books and over 100 peer reviewed publications. Dr. Galambos’ research interests include care transitions and advance care planning, aging in place, health and long term care, systems quality improvement, gerontechnology, and interprofessional practice.
Julianne Holt-Lunstad
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., is a professor at Brigham Young University. She focuses her research on the long-term health effects of social connection. Her work has been seminal in the recognition of social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for early mortality. Dr. Holt-Lunstad has worked with government organizations aimed at addressing this issue. She has provided expert testimony in a US Congressional Hearing, provided expert recommendations for the US Surgeon General Emotional Well-Being in America Initiative, and is currently a member of the technical working group for the UK Cross Departmental Loneliness Team. She also serves as a scientific advisor for the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness, the Foundation for Art & Healing, and research advisory panel for AARP Services, Inc., United Healthcare, and Rural Aging.
James S. House
James S. House, Ph.D. is the Angus Campbell Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Survey Research, Public Policy, and Sociology at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. He received his B.A. in History (minor in Psychology) from Haverford College and his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. His research career has focused on the role of social and psychological factors in the etiology and course of health and illness, initially on occupational stress and health, then social relationships and support in relation to health, and currently on the role of psychosocial factors in understanding and alleviating social disparities in health and the way health changes with age. Professor House has been founding Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator of the Americans' Changing Lives (ACL) study, the Changing Lives of Older Couples (CLOC) study, and the Chicago Community Adult Health Study (CCAHS).
Kathleen McGarry
Kathleen McGarry, Ph.D. is a Professor of Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). She was previously a Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College and served as a Senior Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Professor McGarry’s research focuses on the well-being of the elderly with particular attention paid to public and private transfers, including the Medicare and SSI programs, and the transfer of resources within families. Her research combines work on the financial aspects of aging with issues related to health economics to examine insurance coverage among the elderly. Professor McGarry’s current work analyzes the importance of end of life medical expenses, particularly expenses associated with nursing homes and home health care, and differences in spending by disability status.
Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a mental health services researcher who has focused her work on providing mental health care to low-income and minority communities. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from University of Kansas and completed post-doctoral training at University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Miranda's major research contributions have been in evaluating the impact of mental health care for ethnic minority communities. She is an investigator in two UCLA centers focusing on improving disparities in health care for ethnic minorities. She was the Senior Scientific Editor of Mental Health: Culture, Race and Ethnicity, A Supplement to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (2001). She became a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2005 and was the 2008 recipient of the Emily Mumford Award for Contributions to Social Medicine from Columbia University.
Laurie L. Novak
Laurie Lovett Novak, Ph.D., M.H.S.A. is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics in the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University. She conducts ethnographic research to advance theory and contribute to the development of technology and social interventions in several domains. These include the management of chronic illness in everyday life in the elderly and in other populations, the implementation of technology and other new routines into everyday work practices in health care, and the social and ethical dimensions of new forms of population management in health care. Other areas of interest include collaboration with data scientists in technology design and advancing our understanding of storytelling in health settings. In the Biomedical Informatics graduate program, Dr. Novak teaches qualitative methods and conducts a semester-long seminar on Technology & Society. She received a B.A. in finance from Murray State University, M.H.S.A. in health management and policy from the University of Michigan, and Ph.D. in medical and organizational anthropology from Wayne State University.
Carla Perissinotto
Carla Perissinotto, M.D., M.H.S. was appointed as the first Associate Chief for Geriatrics Clinical Programs at UCSF in 2017, and is an Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine. Dr. Perissinotto is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. Her main work is in UCSF Care at Home--which provides medical care to home bound older adults, and in embedded Geriatrics consult practices. From 2008-2017, Dr. Perissinotto spent a portion of her clinical time at the Over 60 Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, serving adults over age 55 in Alameda County. At Over 60, Dr. Perissinotto directed the educational programs for UCSF learners, and focused on practice change by establishing a team-based model for community-based Geriatrics seeing adults across a continuum of care. Dr. Perissinotto gained national and international recognition for her research on the effects of loneliness on the health of older adults.
Juliann G. Sebastian
Juliann G. Sebastian, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN is Dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her areas of expertise are organization of care delivery systems, care for underserved populations, academic nursing practice, nurse-managed health centers, and doctor of nursing practice program curricula. Dr. Sebastian earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Nursing and a doctorate in business administration from UK’s College of Business and Economics. She served as chair of the board of directors for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2016-18) and is a member of the boards of directors of two non-profit organizations in Nebraska. She has presented at numerous national and international conferences and has published numerous papers, book chapters, abstracts and three books related to community nursing. In 1999, Dr. Sebastian was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.



National Academy of Sciences Building
2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20418
Event Type :  

Description :   

Monday, December 10th 

8:45am - 11:00am: Closed Session

11:15am - 12:30pm: Open Session

11:15am: Welcome Study Sponsors and Introductory Remarks

Dan Blazer, Committee Chair

Lisa Ryerson, AARP Foundation

Discussion and Q & A

Committee Members

12:30pm: Adjournment of Public Session

12:30pm - 5:00pm: Closed Session

5:00pm: Adjourn


Tuesday, December 11th 

8:00am -1:00pm: Closed Session

1:00pm: Adjourn

Registration for Online Attendance :   

Registration for in Person Attendance :   

If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Kendall Logan
Contact Email:
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-3129

Supporting File(s)
Is it a Closed Session Event?
Some sessions are open and some sessions are closed

Publication(s) resulting from the event:



  • Publications having no URL can be seen at the Public Access Records Office

No data present.