Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Loneliness Is Common, and Not Just in the Elderly

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Loneliness Is Common, and Not Just in the Elderly

Article excerpt

REPORTING FROM NAPCRG 2017

MONTREAL -- Loneliness is associated with poorer health, but isn't necessarily more common among older adults; one in five adults in a primary care population reported being lonely, a number higher than previously reported, a study showed.

In a survey of 940 adults seeking care in primary care clinics, 193 (21%) reported loneliness, with women more likely than men to say they were lonely. "Respondents identifying as having poorer health classifications were more likely to report high loneliness scores," said Rebecca Mullen, MD, and her colleagues in a poster presented at the annual meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group.

Those who said they were lonely also had a higher level of health care utilization, and reported they had a lower number of healthy days than the respondents who didn't report loneliness.

Loneliness is associated with more depressive symptoms and an increased risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. However, not much prospective work has been done to drill down further into these associations and to explore other patient characteristics that might be associated with loneliness, said Dr. Mullen of the University of Colorado Denver, Aurora.

The study was conducted in outpatient practice-based research networks in both urban and rural settings in the states of Virginia and Colorado. Participants were adult, English-speaking primary care patients who were given the UCLA Three-Item Loneliness Scale. The scale asks how often respondents feel a lack of companionship, feel left out, and feel isolated from others; responses are "hardly ever," "sometimes," and "often. …

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