Longitudinal Relationship between Loneliness and Social Isolation in Older Adults: Results from the Cardiovascular Health Study

Johanna Petersen, Jeffrey Kaye, Peter Jacobs, Ana Quinones, Hiroko Dodge, Alice Arnold, Stephen Thielke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand the longitudinal relationship between loneliness and isolation. Method: Participants included 5,870 adults 65 years and older (M = 72.89 ± 5.59 years) from the first 5 years of the Cardiovascular Health Study. Loneliness was assessed using a dichotomized loneliness question. Social isolation was assessed using six items from the Lubben Social Network Scale. Yearly life events were included to assess abrupt social network changes. Mixed effects logistic regression was employed to analyze the relationship between isolation and loneliness. Results: Higher levels of social isolation were associated with higher odds of loneliness, as was an increase (from median) in level of social isolation. Life events such as a friend dying were also associated with increased odds of loneliness. Discussion: These results suggest that average level of isolation and increases in the level of isolation are closely tied to loneliness, which has implications for future assessment or monitoring of loneliness in older adult populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-795
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016



  • Cardiovascular Health Study
  • loneliness
  • longitudinal methods
  • social isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Community and Home Care

Cite this