Frequency of social contact in-person vs. on Facebook: An examination of associations with psychiatric symptoms in military veterans

Alan R. Teo, Benjamin K. Chan, Somnath (Som) Saha, Christina Nicolaidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction: Social isolation is closely associated with negative mental health outcomes. Social media platforms may expand opportunities for social contact, but whether online interactions are as effective as face-to-face, or in-person, interactions at protecting against the negative effects of social isolation is unclear. Methods: Participants consisted of U.S. military veterans who served since September 2001 and used Facebook (n = 587). Our independent variables were frequency of social contact occurring in-person and on Facebook. Dependent variables were probable psychiatric disorders and suicidality, measured using several validated screening tools. The independent effect of each form of social contact was assessed using multivariate logistic regression, which included adjustment for several potential confounders. Results: We found that veterans who frequently interacted on Facebook engaged in more in-person social contact than infrequent Facebook users (p <.001). More frequent in-person social interaction was associated with significantly decreased risk of symptoms of major depression and PTSD, compared with contact every few weeks or less. In contrast, increased frequency of social interaction on Facebook had no associations with mental health outcomes. Limitations: All associations are cross-sectional (direction of association is unclear) and based on self-report measures. Conclusions: Although veterans who frequently use Facebook are also typically social in their offline life, it is their offline (in-person) social interaction, rather than their social contact on Facebook, that is associated with reduced psychiatric symptoms.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages375-380
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume243
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019

Fingerprint

Veterans
Psychiatry
Interpersonal Relations
Social Isolation
Mental Health Associations
Social Media
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Self Report
Mental Health
Logistic Models
Depression

Keywords

  • Facebook
  • Social interaction
  • Social isolation
  • Social media
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Frequency of social contact in-person vs. on Facebook : An examination of associations with psychiatric symptoms in military veterans. / Teo, Alan R.; Chan, Benjamin K.; Saha, Somnath (Som); Nicolaidis, Christina.

In: Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 243, 15.01.2019, p. 375-380.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{4b091443113c4ad5822b26d26175c99d,
title = "Frequency of social contact in-person vs. on Facebook: An examination of associations with psychiatric symptoms in military veterans",
abstract = "Introduction: Social isolation is closely associated with negative mental health outcomes. Social media platforms may expand opportunities for social contact, but whether online interactions are as effective as face-to-face, or in-person, interactions at protecting against the negative effects of social isolation is unclear. Methods: Participants consisted of U.S. military veterans who served since September 2001 and used Facebook (n = 587). Our independent variables were frequency of social contact occurring in-person and on Facebook. Dependent variables were probable psychiatric disorders and suicidality, measured using several validated screening tools. The independent effect of each form of social contact was assessed using multivariate logistic regression, which included adjustment for several potential confounders. Results: We found that veterans who frequently interacted on Facebook engaged in more in-person social contact than infrequent Facebook users (p <.001). More frequent in-person social interaction was associated with significantly decreased risk of symptoms of major depression and PTSD, compared with contact every few weeks or less. In contrast, increased frequency of social interaction on Facebook had no associations with mental health outcomes. Limitations: All associations are cross-sectional (direction of association is unclear) and based on self-report measures. Conclusions: Although veterans who frequently use Facebook are also typically social in their offline life, it is their offline (in-person) social interaction, rather than their social contact on Facebook, that is associated with reduced psychiatric symptoms.",
keywords = "Facebook, Social interaction, Social isolation, Social media, Veterans",
author = "Teo, {Alan R.} and Chan, {Benjamin K.} and Saha, {Somnath (Som)} and Christina Nicolaidis",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "15",
doi = "10.1016/j.jad.2018.09.043",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "243",
pages = "375--380",
journal = "Journal of Affective Disorders",
issn = "0165-0327",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Frequency of social contact in-person vs. on Facebook

T2 - Journal of Affective Disorders

AU - Teo, Alan R.

AU - Chan, Benjamin K.

AU - Saha, Somnath (Som)

AU - Nicolaidis, Christina

PY - 2019/1/15

Y1 - 2019/1/15

N2 - Introduction: Social isolation is closely associated with negative mental health outcomes. Social media platforms may expand opportunities for social contact, but whether online interactions are as effective as face-to-face, or in-person, interactions at protecting against the negative effects of social isolation is unclear. Methods: Participants consisted of U.S. military veterans who served since September 2001 and used Facebook (n = 587). Our independent variables were frequency of social contact occurring in-person and on Facebook. Dependent variables were probable psychiatric disorders and suicidality, measured using several validated screening tools. The independent effect of each form of social contact was assessed using multivariate logistic regression, which included adjustment for several potential confounders. Results: We found that veterans who frequently interacted on Facebook engaged in more in-person social contact than infrequent Facebook users (p <.001). More frequent in-person social interaction was associated with significantly decreased risk of symptoms of major depression and PTSD, compared with contact every few weeks or less. In contrast, increased frequency of social interaction on Facebook had no associations with mental health outcomes. Limitations: All associations are cross-sectional (direction of association is unclear) and based on self-report measures. Conclusions: Although veterans who frequently use Facebook are also typically social in their offline life, it is their offline (in-person) social interaction, rather than their social contact on Facebook, that is associated with reduced psychiatric symptoms.

AB - Introduction: Social isolation is closely associated with negative mental health outcomes. Social media platforms may expand opportunities for social contact, but whether online interactions are as effective as face-to-face, or in-person, interactions at protecting against the negative effects of social isolation is unclear. Methods: Participants consisted of U.S. military veterans who served since September 2001 and used Facebook (n = 587). Our independent variables were frequency of social contact occurring in-person and on Facebook. Dependent variables were probable psychiatric disorders and suicidality, measured using several validated screening tools. The independent effect of each form of social contact was assessed using multivariate logistic regression, which included adjustment for several potential confounders. Results: We found that veterans who frequently interacted on Facebook engaged in more in-person social contact than infrequent Facebook users (p <.001). More frequent in-person social interaction was associated with significantly decreased risk of symptoms of major depression and PTSD, compared with contact every few weeks or less. In contrast, increased frequency of social interaction on Facebook had no associations with mental health outcomes. Limitations: All associations are cross-sectional (direction of association is unclear) and based on self-report measures. Conclusions: Although veterans who frequently use Facebook are also typically social in their offline life, it is their offline (in-person) social interaction, rather than their social contact on Facebook, that is associated with reduced psychiatric symptoms.

KW - Facebook

KW - Social interaction

KW - Social isolation

KW - Social media

KW - Veterans

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85053748866&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85053748866&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.jad.2018.09.043

DO - 10.1016/j.jad.2018.09.043

M3 - Article

VL - 243

SP - 375

EP - 380

JO - Journal of Affective Disorders

JF - Journal of Affective Disorders

SN - 0165-0327

ER -