Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

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

Teo AR, Chan BK, Saha S, Nicolaidis C. Frequency of social contact in-person vs. on Facebook: An examination of associations with psychiatric symptoms in military veterans. Journal of affective disorders. 2019 Jan 15; 243:375-380.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


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.

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.