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Longitudinal Loneliness and Its Risk Factors among Older People in England

  • Keming Yang (a1)


This study involved the longitudinal trajectories of loneliness with aging and models the effects of relevant risk factors. Data came from the second to the sixth waves (2004/5 – 2012/13) of the English Longitudinal Studies of Ageing (ELSA). Respondents who participated in at least two waves and offered valid responses to the UCLA three-item loneliness scale were included (baseline n = 9,171). Although statistics describing the inter-wave changes confirmed the longitudinal stability of loneliness among older people, serious attention should be paid to the small percentage of older people who are “longitudinally lonely”. Self-reported health and relations with spouse and children were significant risk factors, and it was the change of closeness to spouse rather than the loss of spouse that most affected the change of loneliness scores. Future research should aim to identify personal and social events that make older people lonely over a long period of time.

Cet article présente les trajectoires longitudinales de la solitude associée au vieillissement et modélise les impacts de ses différents facteurs de risques. Les données proviennent des vagues 2 à 6 (2004/5 – 2012/13) de l’Étude longitudinale anglaise sur le vieillissement de la population (English Longitudinal Studies of Ageing; ELSA). Les répondants ayant participé à au moins deux vagues qui ont répondu de manière valide à l’Échelle de solitude de la UCLA (UCLA three-item loneliness scale) ont été inclus dans l’étude (ligne de base : n = 9171). Bien que les statistiques décrivant les changements entre les vagues confirment la stabilité de la solitude dans une optique longitudinale chez les personnes âgées, une attention particulière devrait être portée à la proportion restreinte de personnes âgées qui se retrouvent dans une « solitude longitudinale ». L’état de santé autodéclaré et les relations avec l’époux et les enfants faisaient partie des facteurs de risques significatifs; aussi, les changements dans le lien de proximité avec l’époux affectaient davantage le score de solitude que la perte de l’époux. D’autres recherches devront être menées afin d’identifier les événements personnels et sociaux qui accroissent la solitude des personnes âgées sur le long terme.


Corresponding author

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adresées à : Keming Yang, Ph.D. 32 Old Elvet School of Applied Social Sciences Durham University Durham DH1 3HN UK <>


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The author thanks Jonathan Bradshaw for his thoughtful comments and suggestions.



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