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Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2011;72(3):243-63.

Loneliness, social networks, and mortality: 18 years of follow-up.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Sociology of Health and Gerontology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel. iecovich@bgu.ac.il

Abstract

We examined the influence of changes in loneliness and social support networks upon mortality during 18 years of follow-up among an elderly cohort and determined the gender-specific nature of this relationship. The study is based on data collected from the Jerusalem Longitudinal Study (1990-2008), which has followed a representative sample of 605 community-dwelling elderly people. Subjects were randomly selected from an age homogenous cohort born 1920-1921 and were aged 70, 78, and 85 when data were collected at baseline in 1990 and at follow-up in 1998 and 2005. All-cause mortality from age 70-88 was determined according to the National Death Registry. Sense of loneliness was found to be stable among the majority of the respondents. Loneliness among men was found in bivariate analyses to be a risk factor for mortality. Although multivariate analyses found that loneliness was not a significant predictor of mortality, nonetheless several social network factors (marital status at the baseline and living arrangements) were found to predict mortality among men. Loneliness and solitude among elderly men can be a risk factor of mortality. The findings imply that attention should be given to this high risk group.

PMID:
21834390
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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