Brunel University London
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Older adults’ experiences of loneliness over the lifecourse – dataset

posted on 2022-06-10, 08:43 authored by Christina VictorChristina Victor, Isla RipponIsla Rippon

  Older adults’ experiences of loneliness over the lifecourse 

This data set contains unique information about  older adults’ experiences of loneliness across the lifecourse and the relationship with current loneliness.  A lifecourse approach to understanding loneliness in later life links this outcome to  long term biological, behavioural, psycho-social, and environmental processes, and exposures. This approach examines adult health outcomes and disparities and distinguishes  between the timing (critical exsposure  and  number of exposures  (cumulative disadvantage).

Our sample consists of  6,708 people aged 65 years and older, resident in the UK, who participated  in the BBC Loneliness Experiment in spring 2018. Loneliness was assessed using the 3 item UCLA Loneliness Scale, using a threshold score of 6+ to define loneliness. Participants were asked if they had experienced loneliness in 5 life-stages ranging from childhood to old age and, if so, at which stage of life they had they experienced loneliness most intensely.  The data set also includes details of  age, gender,marital status, time spent alone, parent andcaer status, self-rated health and financial status and neighbourhood trust.

We show that 71% reported they had experienced loneliness at some previous stage in their life.    

Having had three or more prior life stage experiences of loneliness was an independent risk factor for current loneliness. This aligns with the cumulative disadvantage model of life course exsposures as the odds of experiencing loneliness in later life increased with the number of prior experiences, demonstrating a dose-response relationship. 

In further research we will    examine the importance of the number and timing of previous loneliness experiences and investigate the strategies used to cope with loneliness across the lifecourse as a pathway to developing more effective and personalised loneliness interventions.

The analysis of these data is published in  Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics: 10.1016/j.archger.2022.104740



Wellcome Trust [Funder reference: 209625/Z/17/Z]


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