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Emotional and social loneliness, and depressive symptomatology among adults over 50

McHugh Power, Joanna E., Hannigan, Caoimhe, Hyland, Philip, Kenny, Rose Ann, Kee, Frank and Lawlor, Brian A. (2016) Emotional and social loneliness, and depressive symptomatology among adults over 50. European Geriatric Medicine, 7 (1). S254. ISSN 1878-7649

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Objectives: Previous research indicates that loneliness precedes depression, but little attention is paid to a putative reciprocal relation- ship between the two. We investigated whether a putative reciprocal causative relationship exists between depressive symptomatology, and emotional and social loneliness.

Methods: Using the data of 301 participants aged 50 – 83 (62% female) who partook in two waves of an observational cohort study, we used cross-lagged panel analysis within a Structural Equation Model to investigate potential relationships between loneliness and depressive symptomatology at two time points, controlling for covariates age and sex. We then analysed data from 5698 participants in the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing, aged 50 – 80 (66% female) to investigate whether depressive symptomatology is associated with changes in loneliness over time.

Results: Emotional loneliness was predicted by depressive symptom- atology (beta = 0.280, p < 0.001), but not vice versa (beta = 0.054, p > 0.05). Social loneliness was also predicted by depressive symp- tomatology (beta = 0.128, p < 0.001), but not vice versa (beta = − 0.038, p > 0.05). We then investigated whether depressive symptomatology at baseline predicts a base-free measure of change in overall loneliness between two time points, and found that it did (beta = 0.004, p < 0.01, controlling for covariates) although anxiety symptomatology was a better predictor (beta = 0.331, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: We report that depressive symptomatology precedes emotional and social loneliness although the link between depression and changes in loneliness over time is relatively small. Implications for clinicians treating patients with depressive symptomatology are considerable, given the deleterious outcomes associated with loneliness in later life.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > Welfare of older people
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ni Mhaicin
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2016 10:04
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 15:48

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