Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Lancet Public Health. 2017 May 4;2(6):e260-e266. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30075-0. eCollection 2017 Jun.

Contribution of risk factors to excess mortality in isolated and lonely individuals: an analysis of data from the UK Biobank cohort study.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Department of Health Services Research, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland. Electronic address: marko.elovainio@helsinki.fi.
2
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Department of Health Services Research, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
3
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
4
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.
5
Department of Health Services Research, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
6
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
7
Department of Public Health, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.
8
Clinicum, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

Erratum in

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The associations of social isolation and loneliness with premature mortality are well known, but the risk factors linking them remain unclear. We sought to identify risk factors that might explain the increased mortality in socially isolated and lonely individuals.

METHODS:

We used prospective follow-up data from the UK Biobank cohort study to assess self-reported isolation (a three-item scale) and loneliness (two questions). The main outcomes were all-cause and cause-specific mortality. We calculated the percentage of excess risk mediated by risk factors to assess the extent to which the associations of social isolation and loneliness with mortality were attributable to differences between isolated and lonely individuals and others in biological (body-mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and handgrip strength), behavioural (smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity), socioeconomic (education, neighbourhood deprivation, and household income), and psychological (depressive symptoms and cognitive capacity) risk factors.

FINDINGS:

466 901 men and women (mean age at baseline 56·5 years [SD 8·1]) were included in the analyses, with a mean follow-up of 6·5 years (SD 0·8). The hazard ratio for all-cause mortality for social isolation compared with no social isolation was 1·73 (95% CI 1·65-1·82) after adjustment for age, sex, ethnic origin, and chronic disease (ie, minimally adjusted), and was 1·26 (95% CI 1·20-1·33) after further adjustment for socioeconomic factors, health-related behaviours, depressive symptoms, biological factors, cognitive performance, and self-rated health (ie, fully adjusted). The minimally adjusted hazard ratio for mortality risk related to loneliness was 1·38 (95% CI 1·30-1·47), which reduced to 0·99 (95% CI 0·93-1·06) after full adjustment for baseline risks.

INTERPRETATION:

Isolated and lonely people are at increased risk of death. Health policies addressing risk factors such as adverse socioeconomic conditions, unhealthy lifestyle, and lower mental wellbeing might reduce excess mortality among the isolated and the lonely.

FUNDING:

Academy of Finland, NordForsk, and the UK Medical Research Council.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center