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Long-term predictors of loneliness in old age: Results of a 20-year national study
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7685-3216
Linköping University.
Karolinska Institutet & Stockholms universitet.
2016 (English)In: Aging & Mental Health, ISSN 1360-7863, E-ISSN 1364-6915Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Objectives: There is a general lack of longitudinal research on loneliness in old age. Drawing on life course theory and the convoy model, this study aimed to examine whether there is an association between loneliness in old age and social engagement 20 years earlier.

Method: Data from the nationally representative Swedish Panel Study of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old (2002 and 2011 data collection waves) and the Swedish Level of Living Survey (1981 and 1991 data collection waves) were used, including 823 individuals with an average age of 82.4 years at follow-up.

Results: Each form of social engagement in old age was associated with the same form of social engagement 20 years earlier. Close forms of social engagement were negatively associated with loneliness in old age; as were more distant forms of social engagement, but only when they were considered solely in old age.

Conclusion: Patterns of social engagement in old age were established at least 20 years earlier. Close forms of social engagement are long-term predictors of loneliness, although current social engagement tended to be more influential on loneliness. The study underlines the importance of interventions targeted at close relationships that can provide social support in old age.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
loneliness, social factors, life course, convoy model, longitudinal
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Health and Welfare
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-23320DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2016.1247425PubMedID: 27802772OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-23320DiVA: diva2:1044332
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2012-1704
Available from: 2016-11-02 Created: 2016-11-02 Last updated: 2016-11-04Bibliographically approved

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