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Impact of loneliness and depression on mortality: Results from the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam

  • Tjalling J. Holwerda (a1), Theo G. van Tilburg (a2), Dorly J. H. Deeg (a3), Natasja Schutter (a4), Rien Van (a4), Jack Dekker (a5), Max L. Stek (a6), Aartjan T. F. Beekman (a7) and Robert A. Schoevers (a8)...

Abstract

Background

Loneliness is highly prevalent among older people, has serious health consequences and is an important predictor of mortality. Loneliness and depression may unfavourably interact with each other over time but data on this topic are scarce.

Aims

To determine whether loneliness is associated with excess mortality after 19 years of follow-up and whether the joint effect with depression confers further excess mortality.

Method

Different aspects of loneliness were measured with the De Jong Gierveld scale and depression with the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale in a cohort of 2878 people aged 55–85 with 19 years of follow-up. Excess mortality hypotheses were tested with Kaplan–Meier and Cox proportional hazard analyses controlling for potential confounders.

Results

At follow-up loneliness and depression were associated with excess mortality in older men and women in bivariate analysis but not in multivariate analysis. In multivariate analysis, severe depression was associated with excess mortality in men who were lonely but not in women.

Conclusions

Loneliness and depression are important predictors of early death in older adults. Severe depression has a strong association with excess mortality in older men who were lonely, indicating a lethal combination in this group.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Tjalling J Holwerda, MD, VU University Medical Centre Amsterdam, LASA room A 515, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email: tj.holwerda@vumc.nl

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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Impact of loneliness and depression on mortality: Results from the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam

  • Tjalling J. Holwerda (a1), Theo G. van Tilburg (a2), Dorly J. H. Deeg (a3), Natasja Schutter (a4), Rien Van (a4), Jack Dekker (a5), Max L. Stek (a6), Aartjan T. F. Beekman (a7) and Robert A. Schoevers (a8)...
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