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Loneliness and its predictors among older adults prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic: cross-sectional and longitudinal survey findings from participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study cohort in the USA.

TitleLoneliness and its predictors among older adults prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic: cross-sectional and longitudinal survey findings from participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study cohort in the USA.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsKucharska-Newton A, Matsushita K, Mok Y, Minotti M, Oelsner EC, Ring K, Wagenknecht L, Hughes TM, Mosley T, Palta P, Lutsey PL, Coresh J
JournalBMJ Open
Volume11
Issue12
Paginatione053542
Date Published2021 12 02
ISSN2044-6055
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and over, Atherosclerosis, COVID-19, Cross-Sectional Studies, Humans, Loneliness, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Pandemics, Prospective Studies, SARS-CoV-2
Abstract

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to ascertain the prevalence of perceived loneliness among older adults following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and to examine factors contributing to the perception of loneliness.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional and longitudinal data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study cohort.

SETTING: The ARIC Study cohort, a prospective cohort that recruited (1987-1989) participants from four distinct communities in the USA.

PARTICIPANTS: 2984 ARIC cohort members.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES: Perceived loneliness assessed using the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) UCLA three-item Loneliness Scale telephone interviews conducted May-October 2020 and prior to March 2020.

RESULTS: Of the total 5037 participants alive in 2020, 2984 (56.2%) responded to the UCLA three-item questionnaire (mean age 82.6 (SD 4.6) years, 586 (19.6%) black participants, 1081 (36.2%) men), of which 66 (2.2%) reported having had a COVID-19 infection during the observation period. The proportion of participants reporting feeling lonely was 56.3% (n=1680). Among participants with repeat measures of loneliness (n=516), 35.2% (n=182) reported feeling more lonely following pandemic onset. Self-rated health and emotional resilience were strongly associated with self-perceived loneliness. The burden of COVID-19 infections, concern about the pandemic and decreased self-reported physical activity were greater among black as compared with white participants and among those with an educational attainment of less than high school as compared with high school or more.

CONCLUSION: Findings from this study document the increase in perceived loneliness among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA.

DOI10.1136/bmjopen-2021-053542
Alternate JournalBMJ Open
PubMed ID34857573
PubMed Central IDPMC8640201
Grant ListU01 HL096902 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
U01 HL096899 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
U01 HL096814 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
K23 HL130627 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
OT2 HL156812 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
U01 HL096917 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
U01 HL096812 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
R01 HL070825 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States