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Gerontologist. 2006 Aug;46(4):503-13.

Performance of an abbreviated version of the Lubben Social Network Scale among three European community-dwelling older adult populations.

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  • 1School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA.



There is a need for valid and reliable short scales that can be used to assess social networks and social supports and to screen for social isolation in older persons.


The present study is a cross-national and cross-cultural evaluation of the performance of an abbreviated version of the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6), which was used to screen for social isolation among community-dwelling older adult populations in three European countries. Based on the concept of lack of redundancy of social ties we defined clinical cut-points of the LSNS-6 for identifying persons deemed at risk for social isolation.


Among all three samples, the LSNS-6 and two subscales (Family and Friends) demonstrated high levels of internal consistency, stable factor structures, and high correlations with criterion variables. The proposed clinical cut-points showed good convergent validity, and classified 20% of the respondents in Hamburg, 11% of those in Solothurn (Switzerland), and 15% of those in London as at risk for social isolation.


We conclude that abbreviated scales such as the LSNS-6 should be considered for inclusion in practice protocols of gerontological practitioners. Screening older persons based on the LSNS-6 provides quantitative information on their family and friendship ties, and identifies persons at increased risk for social isolation who might benefit from in-depth assessment and targeted interventions.

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