Loneliness in young people: a multilevel exploration of social ecological influences and geographic variation

Marquez, J., Goodfellow, C. , Hardoon, D., Inchley, J. , Leyland, A. H. , Qualter, P., Simpson, S. A. and Long, E. (2022) Loneliness in young people: a multilevel exploration of social ecological influences and geographic variation. Journal of Public Health, (doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdab402) (PMID:34999845) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Background: Loneliness is a growing public health concern, yet little is known about loneliness in young people. The current study aimed to identify social ecological factors related to loneliness and examine the extent to which geographic region may account for differences in loneliness. Methods: The data come from a cross-sectional sample of 6503 young people living in the UK. Loneliness was measured using the UCLA 3-item scale. Bivariate analyses were used to test associations between each predictor and loneliness. Multilevel models were used to identify key social ecological factors related to loneliness, and the extent to which loneliness may vary across geographic regions (local authority districts). Results: Sociodemographic, social, health and well-being, and community factors were found to be associated with loneliness. Geographic region was associated with 5–8% of the variation in loneliness. The effect of gender, sexual orientation and minority ethnic background on loneliness differed across regions. Conclusions: This is the first study to highlight modifiable social and community factors related to youth loneliness, and individual vulnerabilities, such as poor mental well-being. Results related to geographic differences suggest that local-level initiatives may be most appropriate in tackling loneliness, rather than wider, less contextualized national efforts.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/T008679/1], the Medical Research Council [MC_UU_00022/1, MC_UU_00022/2, MC_UU_00022/3] and the Chief Scientist Office [SPHSU16, SPHSU17, SPHSU18]. EL is also supported by MRC Skills Development Fellowship Award [MR/S015078/1].
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Long, Dr Emily and Goodfellow, Ms Claire and Leyland, Professor Alastair and Simpson, Professor Sharon and Inchley, Dr Joanna and Marquez, Mr Jose
Authors: Marquez, J., Goodfellow, C., Hardoon, D., Inchley, J., Leyland, A. H., Qualter, P., Simpson, S. A., and Long, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Public Health
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1741-3842
ISSN (Online):1741-3850
Published Online:07 January 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Public Health 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5255/UKDA-SN-6614-14

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
308351Loneliness and Mental Health in Adolescent and Young Adult PopulationsEmily LongEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/T008679/1HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
302716MRC Skills Development Fellowship ProgrammeJill PellMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/S015078/1S&PS - Administration
Complexity in healthMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/1HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
Inequalities in healthMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/2HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
Relationships and healthMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU16
Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU17
Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU18