Loneliness, social relations and health and wellbeing in deprived communities

Kearns, A. , Whitley, E. , Tannahill, C. and Ellaway, A. (2015) Loneliness, social relations and health and wellbeing in deprived communities. Psychology, Health and Medicine, 20(3), pp. 332-344. (doi: 10.1080/13548506.2014.940354) (PMID:25058303) (PMCID:PMC4697361)

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There is growing policy concern about the extent of loneliness in advanced societies, and its prevalence among various social groups. This study looks at loneliness among people living in deprived communities, where there may be additional barriers to social engagement including low incomes, fear of crime, poor services and transient populations. The aim was to examine the prevalence of loneliness, and also its associations with different types of social contacts and forms of social support, and its links to self-reported health and wellbeing in the population group. The method involved a cross-sectional survey of 4,302 adults across 15 communities, with the data analysed using multinomial logistic regression controlling for sociodemographics, then for all other predictors within each domain of interest. Frequent feelings of loneliness were more common among those who: had contact with family monthly or less; had contact with neighbours weekly or less; rarely talked to people in the neighbourhood; and who had no available sources of practical or emotional support. Feelings of loneliness were most strongly associated with poor mental health, but were also associated with long-term problems of stress, anxiety and depression, and with low mental wellbeing, though to a lesser degree. The findings are consistent with a view that situational loneliness may be the product of residential structures and resources in deprived areas. The findings also show that neighbourly behaviours of different kinds are important for protecting against loneliness in deprived communities. Familiarity within the neighbourhood, as active acquaintance rather than merely recognition, is also important. The findings are indicative of several mechanisms that may link loneliness to health and wellbeing in our study group: loneliness itself as a stressor; lonely people not responding well to the many other stressors in deprived areas; and loneliness as the product of weak social buffering to protect against stressors.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ellaway, Dr Anne and Whitley, Dr Elise and Kearns, Professor Ade and Tannahill, Dr Carol
Authors: Kearns, A., Whitley, E., Tannahill, C., and Ellaway, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Psychology, Health and Medicine
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1465-3966
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Taylor and Francis
First Published:First published in Psychology, Health and Medicine 20(3):332-344
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
656631Neighbourhoods and HealthAnne EllawayMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/8IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU