Loneliness in Chinese older adults in primary care: Prevalence and correlates.


Background: Loneliness is a significant public health concern among older adults (OA) given its association with a wide range of adverse health outcomes. Primary care is an opportune setting to manage loneliness. However, the epidemiology of loneliness in Chinese OA treated in primary care remains unclear. The present study investigated the prevalence and correlates of loneliness in OA treated in Chinese primary care.

Methods: A total of 744 OA patients (65+ years) were consecutively recruited from 13 primary care clinics in Wuhan, China, and interviewed with a standardized questionnaire, concerning sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle, relationships with family and others, physical health, and sensory impairments. Consistent with prior research on the construct, loneliness was measured with a single-item self-report question. Logistic regression was used to identify correlates of loneliness.

Results: Of primary care OA patients, 26.2% endorsed loneliness. Factors significantly and independently associated with loneliness included 75+ age group (odds ratio [OR]: 1.61, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07, 2.44, P: 0.023), being illiterate (OR: 2.07, 95%CI: 1.26, 3.42, P: 0.004), unmarried (OR: 2.30, 95%CI: 1.40, 3.78, P: 0.001), living alone (OR: 4.37, 95%CI: 2.27, 8.41, P < 0.001), having fair and poor family (OR: 2.44, 95%CI: 1.48, 4.00, P < 0.001) and non-family relationships (OR: 1.75, 95%CI: 1.10, 2.78, P: 0.019), and >/=2 chronic medical conditions (OR: 2.91, 95%CI: 1.22, 6.95, P: 0.016).

Conclusions: Loneliness is common in Chinese primary care OA. The high prevalence and many negative health consequences of loneliness for OA highlight the importance of routine screening, assessment, and interventions to reduce loneliness in the primary health-care setting.

Zhong BL, Liu XJ, Chen WC, Chiu HF, Conwell Y. Loneliness in Chinese older adults in primary care: Prevalence and correlates. Psychogeriatrics. 2018. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 29987863. DOI: 10.1111/psyg.12325.

Publication Year: 
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Social Support/Social Isolation
Social Needs/ SDH
Screening Research: