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Special Issue "Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 March 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marlies Maes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Psychology and Development in Context, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium; Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), 1000 Brussels, Belgium; Youth Studies, Utrecht University, 3508 TC Utrecht, the Netherlands
Interests: loneliness; adolescence, peer relationships, meta-analysis
Prof. Dr. Pamela Qualter
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Interests: loneliness; social relationships; children and adolescence; emotion understanding; interventions
Dr. Marcus Mund
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany
Interests: loneliness; personality development; social relationships; personality-relationship transactions
Dr. Luzia Heu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Youth Studies, Utrecht University, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Interests: loneliness; culture; social norms; mixed-methods research; cultural restrictiveness; social relationships

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to invite you to submit a contribution to a Special Issue on Loneliness in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed open access journal (IF = 2.849, see for detailed information https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph).

Across the lifespan, people may experience loneliness. Especially when prolonged, loneliness can have a long-lasting impact on both one’s mental and physical health and well-being. Consequences of loneliness have frequently been reported, but longitudinal designs remain relatively rare. Moreover, we know little about whether particular contexts would lead to different outcomes (e.g., depending on the age of the participants or the type of loneliness experienced).

In addition to research on the consequences of loneliness, it is of utmost importance to gain better insights into the factors that put people at risk for experiencing loneliness. A wide range of factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of loneliness have been reported, but, again, longitudinal studies remain relatively rare. We also know surprisingly little about why most people recover from temporary feelings of loneliness, while others continue to feel lonely for longer periods of time, and when and to what extent loneliness is contagious. Moreover, factors that contribute to the development of loneliness have been found at the individual level (e.g., genetic, personality, and cognitive factors), but also at the community level (e.g., in relationships with peers, family, and romantic partners) and the societal level (e.g., one’s socioeconomic background, and the neighborhood or country one lives in). However, even though those contributing factors do not operate in isolation, there is a lack of (interdisciplinary) research examining factors from those different levels simultaneously and in interaction.

This Special Issue is open to original research articles and reviews from all over the world that improve our understanding of predictors, consequences, and the prevention of loneliness. We are particularly interested in studies with longitudinal designs and/or that take an interdisciplinary perspective. In addition, as the way we measure loneliness may influence all of the above, we also warmly welcome studies concerning the measurement of loneliness.

Dr. Marlies Maes
Prof. Dr. Pamela Qualter
Dr. Marcus Mund
Dr. Luzia Heu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • loneliness
  • loneliness types
  • loneliness contagion
  • measurement of loneliness
  • risk factors
  • consequences
  • physical and mental well-being
  • public health
  • longitudinal research
  • interdisciplinary perspective

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Article
Understanding Loneliness in Adolescence: A Test of Competing Hypotheses on the Interplay of Extraversion and Neuroticism
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12412; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312412 - 25 Nov 2021
Viewed by 333
Abstract
Given that adolescents often experience fundamental changes in social relationships, they are considered to be especially prone to loneliness. Meanwhile, theory and research highlight that both extraversion and neuroticism are closely intertwined with individual differences in loneliness. Extant research has explored the linear [...] Read more.
Given that adolescents often experience fundamental changes in social relationships, they are considered to be especially prone to loneliness. Meanwhile, theory and research highlight that both extraversion and neuroticism are closely intertwined with individual differences in loneliness. Extant research has explored the linear main effects of these personality traits, yet potential non-linear associations (e.g., exponential effects) and the potential interplay of extraversion and neuroticism (e.g., mutual reinforcement effects) remain unknown. We addressed these open questions using cross-sectional and one-year longitudinal data from two adolescent samples (overall N = 583, Mage = 17.57, 60.55% girls) and an information-theoretic approach combined with polynomial regression. Analyses showed little evidence for interaction effects but revealed non-linear effects in addition to the main effects of extraversion and neuroticism on loneliness. For example, the positive cross-sectional association between neuroticism and loneliness was stronger at higher neuroticism levels (i.e., exponential effect). Results differed across loneliness facets in that both traits predicted emotional loneliness, but only extraversion predicted social loneliness. Longitudinal analyses showed that loneliness changes were mainly related to neuroticism. We discuss results in the light of sample differences, elaborate on the importance to differentiate between emotional versus social aspects of loneliness, and outline implications for adolescent development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
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Article
Exploring the Frequency, Intensity, and Duration of Loneliness: A Latent Class Analysis of Data from the BBC Loneliness Experiment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12027; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212027 - 16 Nov 2021
Viewed by 453
Abstract
Almost all measures of loneliness have been developed without discussing how to best conceptualize and assess the severity of loneliness. In the current study, we adapted the four-item UCLA, so that it continued to measure frequency of loneliness, but also assessed intensity and [...] Read more.
Almost all measures of loneliness have been developed without discussing how to best conceptualize and assess the severity of loneliness. In the current study, we adapted the four-item UCLA, so that it continued to measure frequency of loneliness, but also assessed intensity and duration, providing a measure of other aspects of loneliness severity. Using data from participants resident in the UK who completed the BBC Loneliness Experiment (N = 36,767; F = 69.6%) and Latent Class Profile Analyses, we identified four groups of people who scored high on loneliness on at least one of the three severity measures. Duration of loneliness often over months or years seemed to be particularly important in distinguishing groups. Further, group membership was predicted by important demographic and psychological variables. We discuss the findings in terms of implications for research and practice. We highlight the need to explore these profiles longitudinally to investigate how membership predicts later mental and physical health, and well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Article
Loneliness and Mental Health: The Mediating Effect of Perceived Social Support
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11963; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211963 - 14 Nov 2021
Viewed by 604
Abstract
Social connectedness is a fundamental human need. The Evolutionary Theory of Loneliness (ETL) predicts that a lack of social connectedness has long-term mental and physical health consequences. Social support is a potential mechanism through which loneliness influences health. The present cross-sectional study examined [...] Read more.
Social connectedness is a fundamental human need. The Evolutionary Theory of Loneliness (ETL) predicts that a lack of social connectedness has long-term mental and physical health consequences. Social support is a potential mechanism through which loneliness influences health. The present cross-sectional study examined the relationship between loneliness and mental health, and the mediating effects of social support in a Dutch adult sample (N = 187, age 20 to 70). The health variables included in the study are anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms as measured by the SCL-90, and the DSM-5 diagnosis somatic symptom disorder. The results indicated that social support partially mediated the relationship between loneliness and anxiety, depression, and somatic symptoms. These results indicate that social support partially explains the relationship between loneliness and physical and mental health issues. The relationship between loneliness and being diagnosed with somatic symptom disorder was not mediated by social support. This suggests that the mechanisms through which loneliness relates to either somatic symptoms or somatic symptom disorder are different. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
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Article
Tell Me about Loneliness: Interviews with Young People about What Loneliness Is and How to Cope with It
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11904; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211904 - 12 Nov 2021
Viewed by 361
Abstract
Background: loneliness is a common experience for adolescents, yet the voices of adolescents are missing from current conceptualisations of loneliness. That means, measures that have been created based on current conceptualisations may miss important contexts of adolescence, such as the roles of friendships, [...] Read more.
Background: loneliness is a common experience for adolescents, yet the voices of adolescents are missing from current conceptualisations of loneliness. That means, measures that have been created based on current conceptualisations may miss important contexts of adolescence, such as the roles of friendships, that determine the way loneliness is experienced. The current study aims to centre adolescent voices to identify how they conceptualise loneliness and what strategies they consider to be useful for adolescents to cope with loneliness. Method: thematic framework analysis (TFA) was conducted on qualitative interviews with young people aged 8–14 years in Belgium and Italy to identify salient themes in their conceptualisations of loneliness. Results: Loneliness was conceptualised as a negative emotional state involving negative thinking patterns that occurs when an individual perceives they are missing out on a desired aspect in their social relationships. Coping strategies related to alleviating negative affect, and aiding social reconnection. Conclusions: friendships with peers were understood to be central to adolescent loneliness experiences. In line with that, loneliness was seen to be experienced at school. Age-related differences in friendship expectations were identified, highlighting how developmental needs relate to the loneliness experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
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Article
Lonely, but Not Alone: Qualitative Study among Immigrant and Native-Born Adolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11425; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111425 - 30 Oct 2021
Viewed by 446
Abstract
This paper explores loneliness as it is understood and experienced by adolescents, with a special focus on the importance of their migration status. We recruited students from five schools following a maximum variation sampling scheme, and we conducted 15 semi-structured, individual interviews with [...] Read more.
This paper explores loneliness as it is understood and experienced by adolescents, with a special focus on the importance of their migration status. We recruited students from five schools following a maximum variation sampling scheme, and we conducted 15 semi-structured, individual interviews with eighth-grade adolescents (aged 14–15 years) that were immigrants, descendants, and with a Danish majority background. A thematic analysis was applied with a special focus on differences and similarities in understanding and experiencing loneliness between adolescents with diverse migration status. The results showed more similarities than differences in loneliness. Generally, loneliness was described as an adverse feeling, varying in intensity and duration, and participants referenced distressing emotions. Feeling lonely was distinguished from being alone and characterized as an invisible social stigma. A variety of perceived social deficiencies were emphasized as causing loneliness, emerging in the interrelation between characteristics of the individual and their social context. The results add to the current literature by highlighting that it is not the presence of specific individual characteristics that causes loneliness; instead, loneliness is dependent on the social contexts the individual is embedded in. Differences across migration status were few and related to variations in the adolescents’ individual characteristics. The findings highlight the importance of (1) studying the characteristics of both the individual and the social context in research on the antecedents to adolescents’ loneliness, and (2) applying this perspective in other studies on the importance of migration status. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Article
Learning Difficulties and Loneliness in College and Beyond: The Mediating Role of Self-Efficacy, Proactive Coping, and Hope
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10508; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910508 - 07 Oct 2021
Viewed by 606
Abstract
Following the conservation of resources, social-cognitive and hope theories, the goals of this study were to identify the role of self-efficacy, proactive coping, and hope as mediators in the relations between learning difficulties and loneliness distress. A questionnaire was sent to current and [...] Read more.
Following the conservation of resources, social-cognitive and hope theories, the goals of this study were to identify the role of self-efficacy, proactive coping, and hope as mediators in the relations between learning difficulties and loneliness distress. A questionnaire was sent to current and past students. The sample consisted of 498 participants. The results demonstrated that individuals with learning difficulties reported higher levels of loneliness compared with individuals without learning difficulties. Moreover, self-efficacy, proactive coping, and hope mediated the relations between levels of learning difficulties and loneliness. Specifically, the final model emphasized the important role of hopeful beliefs, since hope mediated the relations between learning difficulties, self-efficacy, and proactive coping with loneliness. In terms of practical implications, professionals’ awareness as well as psychoeducational programs could be tailor-made to enhance hopeful beliefs and reduce loneliness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
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Article
Prevalence and Social Inequality in Youth Loneliness in the UK
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10420; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910420 - 03 Oct 2021
Viewed by 549
Abstract
Using data from the English arm of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, we examined the prevalence of loneliness for school-aged adolescents and how it is linked to social inequalities. The HBSC study collects data from 11-, 13-, and 15-year-olds, and [...] Read more.
Using data from the English arm of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, we examined the prevalence of loneliness for school-aged adolescents and how it is linked to social inequalities. The HBSC study collects data from 11-, 13-, and 15-year-olds, and is repeated every four years, allowing the exploration of prevalence rates of loneliness pre COVID-19 pandemic for comparison. We also explored whether loneliness was associated with socio-economic status (SES) and linked to academic attainment and health complaints. The total sample was 14,077 from 156 schools in England. Findings revealed a stable prevalence rate of 8.2% for loneliness from 2006 to 2014. We also found, across all survey years, (1) those aged 15 years were significantly lonelier than younger peers, (2) those who reported lower SES were lonelier than their more well-off peers, and (3) higher loneliness was associated with being ‘”below average” academically and reporting more health complaints. Conclusions: These prevalence data enable researchers, policymakers, and others to make comparisons with prevalence rates during the COVID-19 pandemic to explore whether there have been increases in loneliness among school-aged adolescents. Loneliness was consistently related to social inequalities, suggesting that targeted interventions that include whole systems changes are needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Article
The Association between Loneliness, Mental Well-Being, and Self-Esteem among Adolescents in Four Nordic Countries
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7405; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147405 - 11 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1611
Abstract
Positive mental health is central to adolescent well-being. The present study examines the prevalence of loneliness and positive mental health indicators (mental well-being and self-esteem) in four Nordic countries and associations between loneliness, mental well-being, and high self-esteem. This study is based on [...] Read more.
Positive mental health is central to adolescent well-being. The present study examines the prevalence of loneliness and positive mental health indicators (mental well-being and self-esteem) in four Nordic countries and associations between loneliness, mental well-being, and high self-esteem. This study is based on data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study which was conducted in 2018 in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden. Participants were 5883 15-year-old boys and girls. To examine the associations between loneliness, mental well-being, and self-esteem, structural equation modeling (SEM) was applied. In the comparison of Nordic countries, the prevalence of loneliness was highest among Finnish and Icelandic adolescents. High mental well-being and high self-esteem were most prevalent in Denmark and Sweden. In general, boys scored higher on positive mental health indicators and girls on loneliness. Loneliness was also a strong indicator of low mental well-being and low self-esteem in all Nordic countries. Loneliness is not only associated with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, but it is also a risk factor for adolescents’ positive mental health. Positive mental health is important for healthy maturation and there is a need to develop initiatives to reduce adolescent loneliness and so support positive development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
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Article
Loneliness among Homeless Individuals during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 3035; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063035 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1466
Abstract
The feeling of loneliness is a major public health concern associated with multiple somatic and psychiatric illnesses. Studies have shown increasing incidence of loneliness in the general population during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homeless individuals are a particularly vulnerable group; [...] Read more.
The feeling of loneliness is a major public health concern associated with multiple somatic and psychiatric illnesses. Studies have shown increasing incidence of loneliness in the general population during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homeless individuals are a particularly vulnerable group; however, little is known about loneliness among homeless individuals. We therefore aimed to examine the prevalence of loneliness among homeless individuals during the pandemic. Furthermore, we estimated the association between loneliness and sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, as well as the self-perceived risk of contracting COVID-19. Data from the Hamburg survey of homeless individuals were used, including 151 homeless individuals that were recruited in spring of 2020. Loneliness was measured by the 3- item version of the UCLA-3 Loneliness Scale. To summarize, 48.5% of the participants experienced loneliness. Multiple linear regressions showed increased loneliness to be associated with male gender (β = 1.07, p = 0.01), being single (β = 1.33, p = 0.00), originating from Germany (β = 1.48, p = 0.00), high frequency of sharing a sleeping space with more than three people (β = 0.42, p = 0.02) and a higher self-perceived risk of contracting COVID-19 (β = 0.41, p = 0.02). On the contrary, there was no association of loneliness with age, educational level, chronic alcohol consumption or frequently sharing a sleeping space. In conclusion, the magnitude of loneliness among homeless individuals during the pandemic was highlighted. Description of factors determining loneliness may help to identify homeless individuals at risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Article
Associations of Problematic Binge-Watching with Depression, Social Interaction Anxiety, and Loneliness
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 1168; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031168 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2561
Abstract
Background: Binge-watching refers to the watching of several episodes of a TV series or program in rapid succession. This study aims to investigate the associations of binge-watching behavior with depression, social interaction anxiety, and loneliness risks among adults in Taiwan. Methods: A cross-sectional [...] Read more.
Background: Binge-watching refers to the watching of several episodes of a TV series or program in rapid succession. This study aims to investigate the associations of binge-watching behavior with depression, social interaction anxiety, and loneliness risks among adults in Taiwan. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted in October 2018, in which data from 1488 participants were collected using a self-administered questionnaire comprising four valid and reliable scales: the Center for Epidemiologic Studied Depression Scale (CES-D), the Chinese version of the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS-C), the UCLA Loneliness Scale (version 3), and the Problematic Series Watching Scale (PSWS). Results: Among the surveyed participants, the mean age was 28.3, and most participants were women who had completed undergraduate education. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that, after adjustments for sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported health statuses, the score on the problematic binge-watching scale was positively associated with the scores on the depression, social interaction anxiety, and loneliness scales (p < 0.001 for each model). Conclusions: Problematic binge-watching was associated with increased depression, social interaction anxiety, and loneliness risks among adults in Taiwan. Additional studies on the relationship between problematic binge-watching and mental health problems, as well as its potential mechanism, are warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Article
Spotting Loneliness at School: Associations between Self-Reports and Teacher and Peer Nominations
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 971; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18030971 - 22 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1360
Abstract
In two independent studies, we aimed to examine the extent to which teacher and peer nominations of loneliness are associated with children’s and adolescents’ self-reported loneliness, respectively. Additionally, we examined whether loneliness nominations from teachers and peers were informative above and beyond peer [...] Read more.
In two independent studies, we aimed to examine the extent to which teacher and peer nominations of loneliness are associated with children’s and adolescents’ self-reported loneliness, respectively. Additionally, we examined whether loneliness nominations from teachers and peers were informative above and beyond peer status and social behaviors associated with loneliness. In Study 1 (N = 1594, Mage = 9.43 years), teacher nominations of loneliness showed a small to moderate correlation with children’s self-reported loneliness as assessed using the Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Questionnaire (LSDQ). The results of a hierarchical regression analysis showed that teacher nominations of loneliness predicted children’s self-reported loneliness above and beyond teacher nominations of peer status and social behaviors. In Study 2 (N = 350, Mage = 13.81 years), peer nominations of loneliness showed a small to moderate correlation with adolescents’ self-reported loneliness as assessed using the peer-related loneliness subscale of the Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents (LACA). The results of a hierarchical regression analysis showed that peer nominations of loneliness predicted adolescents’ self-reported loneliness above and beyond peer nominations of peer status and social behaviors. We conclude that loneliness nominations are valuable, but caution is needed when they are used exclusively to identify lonely children and adolescents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Article
Typologies of Loneliness, Isolation and Living Alone Are Associated with Psychological Well-Being among Older Adults in Taipei: A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9181; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249181 - 08 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1124
Abstract
Background: Loneliness, isolation, and living alone are emerging as critical issues in older people’s health and well-being, but the effects are not consistent. The purpose of this study was to examine the clustering of loneliness, isolation, and living alone, the risk factors and [...] Read more.
Background: Loneliness, isolation, and living alone are emerging as critical issues in older people’s health and well-being, but the effects are not consistent. The purpose of this study was to examine the clustering of loneliness, isolation, and living alone, the risk factors and the associations with psychological well-being. Methods: The data were collected from the 2019 Taipei City Senior Citizen Condition Survey by face-to-face interviews and included a community-based sample (n = 3553). Loneliness, isolation, and living arrangement were analyzed by cluster analysis to define Loneliness-Isolation-Living-Alone clusters. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the factors related to Loneliness-Isolation-Living-Alone clusters, and linear regression was used to examine association of clusters with psychological well-being. Results: Five clusters of older adults were identified and named as follows: Not Lonely-Connected-Others (53.4%), Not Lonely-Isolated-Others (26.6%), Not Lonely-Alone (5.0%), Lonely-Connected (8.1%), and Lonely-Isolated-Others (6.9%). Demographics, financial satisfaction, physical function, family relationship, and social participation were related to the Loneliness-Isolation-Living-Alone clusters. Compared with the Not Lonely-Connected-Others cluster, the Lonely-Connected cluster and Lonely-Isolated-Others cluster had higher depressive symptoms and lower life satisfaction, and the Not Lonely-Isolated-Others cluster reported lower life satisfaction; the Not Lonely-Alone cluster was not different. Discussion: Loneliness and isolation are negatively associated with psychological well-being, and living arrangement is not the determinant to loneliness or isolation. Older adults are suggested to strengthen their informal social support, and the government may encourage social care and create an age friendly environment to reduce loneliness and isolation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)

Review

Jump to: Research

Review
Loneliness: An Immunometabolic Syndrome
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12162; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212162 - 19 Nov 2021
Viewed by 370
Abstract
Loneliness has been defined as an agonizing encounter, experienced when the need for human intimacy is not met adequately, or when a person’s social network does not match their preference, either in number or attributes. This definition helps us realize that the cause [...] Read more.
Loneliness has been defined as an agonizing encounter, experienced when the need for human intimacy is not met adequately, or when a person’s social network does not match their preference, either in number or attributes. This definition helps us realize that the cause of loneliness is not merely being alone, but rather not being in the company we desire. With loneliness being introduced as a measurable, distinct psychological experience, it has been found to be associated with poor health behaviors, heightened stress response, and inadequate physiological repairing activity. With these three major pathways of pathogenesis, loneliness can do much harm; as it impacts both immune and metabolic regulation, altering the levels of inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, acute-phase reactants, chemokines, immunoglobulins, antibody response against viruses and vaccines, and immune cell activity; and affecting stress circuitry, glycemic control, lipid metabolism, body composition, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular function, cognitive function and mental health, respectively. Taken together, there are too many immunologic and metabolic manifestations associated with the construct of loneliness, and with previous literature showcasing loneliness as a distinct psychological experience and a health determinant, we propose that loneliness, in and of itself, is not just a psychosocial phenomenon. It is also an all-encompassing complex of systemic alterations that occur with it, expanding it into a syndrome of events, linked through a shared network of immunometabolic pathology. This review aims to portray a detailed picture of loneliness as an “immunometabolic syndrome”, with its multifaceted pathology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Review
A Conceptual Review of Loneliness in Adults: Qualitative Evidence Synthesis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11522; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111522 - 02 Nov 2021
Viewed by 806
Abstract
The paper reports an evidence synthesis of how loneliness is conceptualised in qualitative studies in adults. Using PRISMA guidelines, our review evaluated exposure to or experiences of loneliness by adults (aged 16+) in any setting as outcomes, processes, or both. Our initial review [...] Read more.
The paper reports an evidence synthesis of how loneliness is conceptualised in qualitative studies in adults. Using PRISMA guidelines, our review evaluated exposure to or experiences of loneliness by adults (aged 16+) in any setting as outcomes, processes, or both. Our initial review included any qualitative or mixed-methods study, published or unpublished, in English, from 1945 to 2018, if it employed an identified theory or concept for understanding loneliness. The review was updated to include publications up to November 2020. We used a PEEST (Participants, Exposure, Evaluation, Study Design, Theory) inclusion criteria. Data extraction and quality assessment (CASP) were completed and cross-checked by a second reviewer. The Evidence of Reviews of Qualitative Research (CERQual) was used to evaluate confidence in the findings. We undertook a thematic synthesis using inductive methods for peer-reviewed papers. The evidence identified three types of distinct but overlapping conceptualisations of loneliness: social, emotional, and existential. We have high confidence in the evidence conceptualising social loneliness and moderate confidence in the evidence on emotional and existential loneliness. Our findings provide a more nuanced understanding of these diverse conceptualisations to inform more effective decision-making and intervention development to address the negative wellbeing impacts of loneliness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
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Review
A Systematic Review of the Development and Psychometric Properties of Loneliness Measures for Children and Adolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 3285; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063285 - 22 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1633
Abstract
This paper reviews the three most commonly used measures of loneliness for children and adolescents (children: Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents [LACA] and Children’s Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Scale [CLS]; adolescents: UCLA Loneliness Scale [UCLA] and LACA). Loneliness is a [...] Read more.
This paper reviews the three most commonly used measures of loneliness for children and adolescents (children: Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents [LACA] and Children’s Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Scale [CLS]; adolescents: UCLA Loneliness Scale [UCLA] and LACA). Loneliness is a pertinent issue across populations and affects the mental health and academic achievement of children and adolescents. To date, there has been no thorough examination of the loneliness measures for this age group. We examine how each of the three measures was developed, and assess the psychometric properties of those measures, gaining insight into whether they are valid and reliable assessments of loneliness. Results suggest that the UCLA Loneliness Scale is the most popular measure of loneliness for use with adolescents, but it does not have robust psychometric properties for that group. For children, the CLS appears most suitable. Results of the review identify gaps in aspects of measure development, with no measure having been developed with children or adolescents. Implications for future loneliness measurement research are considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
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