Social health survey

Program: Social Health

If you are socially healthy, you have a circle of people around you who are important to you and who are there for you when you need them. You also know people or places that can help you when things are not going so well.

This statement was put to a representative group of Dutch people by Motivaction, a renowned independent market research agency, on behalf of Noaber. Just over half of those surveyed had associations with the term ‘social health’. People found the term appealing and it evoked a positive feeling.  Fortunately, the majority said they know people they can turn to when they need help. A smaller proportion, however, said they feel comfortable actually asking for help when needed.


Health and social relationships are not yet automatically linked. Having people you can interact with when you need it and places where you can find those people (social health), however, is very important. We may think, for example, that smoking and poor air quality are major health risks. This is true. But the positive contribution of social relationships on our mental and physical health is even greater. This is evidenced by important studies. It is therefore worrisome that the study revealed that Dutch people who consider themselves relatively "unhealthy" often also report poorer social health.


Unfortunately, those surveyed experience barriers to consciously working on their social health. Three in ten Dutch people said they find it uncomfortable to talk about their need for new contacts or feel unsure if others need to contact them. But practical barriers, such as not meeting new people often in everyday life or not knowing how to work on your social health, are also mentioned. It is striking that young people (18-24 years old), while more aware of the importance of social relationships for health, experience more taboos and are less satisfied with their social health.

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Healthcare professionals

The study separately surveyed a large group of healthcare professionals. Although they too associate health primarily with being mentally and physically healthy, they are even more positive about the term "social health" than the general population. Almost all healthcare professionals think that social contacts can help one to be healthier, and three-quarters of those surveyed think it is important to pay attention to the social health of patients or clients in professional practice. Lack of time is the main barrier; they also sometimes find it an uncomfortable topic of conversation.

What’s next?

The majority of Dutch people think that more attention should be paid to social health. As program managers we believe: "More social connection improves health and creates a more caring society. We therefore call for more attention to the subject, for example within healthcare and education. Priority is then given to young people and physically less healthy people." The social health program that Noaber is developing therefore focuses primarily on awareness. It also supports a number of organizations. One example is Join Us, an organization that focuses on young people experiencing loneliness and puts them in contact with peers and helps them become stronger socially.”