In response to growing levels of social isolation and loneliness in cities, the promotion of social connectedness has come to the forefront of urban health, sustainability, and resiliency agendas. Despite policy attention locally and internationally, social connectedness is not consistently defined, conceptualized, or measured in population health and urban planning research. The term has also been used interchangeably with various other concepts in research on social environments and health, particularly social cohesion, social capital, and social inclusion. These discrepancies create confusion for planners and policymakers looking for evidence-informed guidance on the implementation and evaluation of urban interventions designed to promote social connectedness. Further, it presents a challenge for intervention researchers interested in investigating possible causal pathways between urban change, social connectedness, and health. Drawing from contemporary public health and urban planning literature, this paper aims to delineate the concept of social connectedness, including its meaning, measurement, and relationship to neighbourhoods and health. Clarifying social connectedness for urban health research and policy is crucial to interpreting and advancing evidence on its role – both its determinants and impacts – in the development of healthy, sustainable, and resilient cities.
Sones M, Firth CL, Fuller D, Holden M, Kestens Y, Winters M. Situating social connectedness in healthy cities: a conceptual primer for research and policy. In Cities & Health. 2021. DOI:10.1080/23748834.2021.1926657