TUESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who have health
problems have fewer friends than other teens and often believe
their friendships are stronger than they actually are, new research
U.S. researchers examined the responses of 2,060 teens who took
part in a 1994-1996 survey that asked them about their health and
their school friends. About two-thirds of the teens rated their
health as "excellent" or "very good." The rest of the teens who
said their health was either "good," "fair" or "poor" had such
conditions as asthma, obesity, deafness or blindness.
But, according to lead author Steven Haas, a sociologist at
Arizona State University, these teens "don't perceive themselves as
having fewer friends. If you ask them to list [their friends], they
list the same number of friends as the healthy kids do."
"But if you ask the other kids who they're friends with, they're much less likely to nominate the sick kids as their friends," Haas said in a Center for Advancing Health news release.
The findings show that less-healthy teens "tend to overstate how
strong some of their friendships are," Haas added.
The study also found that the sickest teens were 20 percent more
likely to have no one at school list them as a friend.
It's not known which comes first -- isolation or poor health.
But it's clear that "being sick doesn't make you fun to be around,"
Haas noted. "It can be taxing on your friends and they have to do a
lot of emotional support and try to make you feel better."
Hass added, "Health is both a cause and a consequence of how
many friends you have and how many people you have to support
The study is published in the December issue of the
Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
The Nemours Foundation outlines how teens can cope with
chronic health conditions.