Korean J Psychosom Med.  2019 Dec;27(2):173-180. 10.22722/KJPM.2019.27.2.173.

Risk Factors Associated with Loneliness in the Elderly Living Alone

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Dankook University, Cheonan, Korea. mdjjlee@dankook.ac.kr

Abstract


OBJECTIVES
Loneliness is associated with negative mental and physical health. However, little is known about the risk factors of loneliness in the Korean elderly living alone. The aim of this study was to examine sociodemographic and social network related risks for loneliness among the elderly living alone.
METHODS
This is a cross-sectional study that enrolled 1,091 subjects who are the community-residing elderly living alone. Sociodemographic status, medical condition, cognition, mood disorder and levels of loneliness were collected using a self-administered questionnaire and a specific semi-structured interview conducted by a trained nurse. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze data regarding sociodemographic variable and loneliness. Univariate and Multivariate regression analyses were applied to examine factors associated with loneliness.
RESULTS
The mean score of loneliness was 3.8 (SD=1.7). No family contact (standardized β=0.115, p<0.001), no religious attendance (standardized β=0.057, p=0.028), no gathering with friends (standardized β=0.088, p=0.001) and high score of Short for of Geriatric Depression Scale (standardized β=0.502, p<0.001) were significantly associated with high loneliness in the elderly living alone.
CONCLUSIONS
Family function, social network and depressive mood could be significant risk factors for high loneliness in the elderly living alone. Public health promotion efforts to reduce loneliness should focus on improving family function, social network and decreasing depression.

Keyword

Loneliness; Family function; Social network; Depression; Elderly living alone
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