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Loneliness amongst older people: findings from a survey in Coventry, UK

John Woolham (Senior Research Fellow at School of Social Therapeutic and Community Studies, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
Guy Daly (Dean and Professor at University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Elizabeth Hughes (Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at University of York, York, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 9 September 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate factors associated with loneliness amongst people aged 55 and over living in Coventry, a medium-sized city in the Midlands, UK.

Design/methodology/approach

Quantitative community survey of residents, involving postal and online questionnaire and distribution of questionnaire to local community resources used by older people and “ballot boxes” for completed questionnaires in these locations.

Findings

Using multivariate regression analysis the study found that living alone, not enjoying life, needing help with personal care and not being in touch with people as often as liked all predicted loneliness.

Research limitations/implications

Survey was commissioned by a range of local statutory and voluntary sector providers and had a wider focus than loneliness. Some evidence of under-representation of males, minority ethnic groups and possibly people from lower socio-economic groups is reported. Further qualitative research is needed to better understand consequences and causes of loneliness.

Practical implications

The study identified factors associated with loneliness that could be used to identify people who may be lonely in general or, for example, NHS or social care service populations.

Originality/value

Loneliness is slowly becoming more recognised as a social problem in its own right and a contributory factor in poor health and well-being. This paper explores a the relationship between lonely and “not lonely” people and a range of factors clustered within the four thematic areas of demographic background, reported health and well-being, access to personal resources and use of community resources of survey participants.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The survey from which evidence used in this paper is drawn was funded by Coventry City Council whose support is gratefully acknowledged. The contents of this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the City Council's staff or elected members.

Citation

Woolham, J., Daly, G. and Hughes, E. (2013), "Loneliness amongst older people: findings from a survey in Coventry, UK", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 192-204. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-12-2012-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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