Sick Kids Have Fewer Friends Than They Think, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Teens

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Sick kids might misinterpret their social networks. Credit: Getty Images

Making new friends is no easy feat for many teenagers, but a new study published in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior shows those with chronic health problems including obesity, asthma and Lyme disease have it even harder.

Plenty of studies have found that people who have more friends tend to be healthier, but Steven Haas, an Arizona State University sociologist, wondered if the reverse was also true: Does being healthier allow you to make better friends?

Haas and his research team found that teens were less likely to say they were friends with a fellow student if that student was sick. This finding was based on surveys administered to 2,060 classmates as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the Chicago Tribune reports.

However, sick teens listed just as many friends in the survey as the teens who were healthy. The sick kids didn't realize their social networks weren't as strong as those of other kids.

"Adolescents in poor health form smaller local networks and occupy less central global positions than their healthy peers," the study reports. The sick teens, in other words, are less central players in their respective social networks.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.