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Sociodemographic and Health-Related Risks for Loneliness and Outcome Differences by Loneliness Status in a Sample of U.S. Older Adults

 This study assesses sociodemographic and health-related factors associated with loneliness and outcome differences between loneliness groups using a sample of 13,812 older adults from the U.S Health and Retirement Study. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were followed by logistic regression to evaluate risks and analysis of covariance testing to determine outcome differences. Overall, prevalence of loneliness was 16.9%. Nonmarried status, poorer self-report of health, lower educational level, functional impairment, increasing number of chronic illnesses, younger age, lower income, and less people living in the household were all associated with loneliness. The chronically lonely group reported less exercise, more tobacco use, less alcohol use, a greater number of chronic illnesses, higher depression scores, and greater average number of nursing home stays. Future research evaluating the effectiveness of both prevention and treatment interventions for loneliness in older adults would provide empirical data to further guide gerontological nursing practice.