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Trajectories of loneliness and objective social isolation and associations between persistent loneliness and self-reported personal recovery in a cohort of secondary mental health service users in the UK

Ma, R; Wang, J; Lloyd-Evans, B; Marston, L; Johnson, S; (2021) Trajectories of loneliness and objective social isolation and associations between persistent loneliness and self-reported personal recovery in a cohort of secondary mental health service users in the UK. BMC Psychiatry , 21 , Article 421. 10.1186/s12888-021-03430-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Loneliness is a frequent and distressing experience among people with mental health problems. However, few longitudinal studies have so far investigated the trajectories of loneliness and objective social isolation, and the extent to which both issues may impact mental health outcomes among mental health service users. Therefore, this study aims to describe the trajectories of loneliness and objective social isolation and their associations with self-rated personal recovery among people leaving crisis resolution teams (CRTs). Methods: A total of 224 participants receiving care from CRTs (recruited for a large multi-site randomised controlled trial) were included in this longitudinal cohort study. They completed the eight-item University of California at Los Angeles Loneliness Scale (ULS-8), Lubben-Social Network Scale (LNSN-6), and the Questionnaire about the Process of Recovery (QPR) (primary outcome) at baseline, 4- and 18-month follow-up, as well as baseline sociodemographic and clinical variables. Results: We compared groups who were persistently lonely (at all time points), intermittently lonely (at one or two time points) and never lonely. After adjusting for all potential confounders and baseline predictive variables, persistent severe loneliness was associated with worse personal recovery at 18-month follow-up compared with the never lonely (reference group) (coef. = − 12.8, 95% CI -11.8, − 3.8, p < .001), as was being intermittently lonely (coef. = − 7.8, 95% CI -18.8, − 6.8, p < .001). The persistently objectively social isolated group (coef. = − 9.8, 95% CI -15.7, − 3.8, p = .001) also had poorer self-rated recovery at 18-month follow-up than those who were not socially isolated at any timepoint (i.e., reference category). Conclusion: Results suggest that both persistent loneliness and objective social isolation are associated with poorer self-rated recovery following a crisis, compatible with a causal relationship. These findings suggest a potential role for interventions aimed at alleviating loneliness and objective social isolation in improving recovery outcomes for people with mental health symptoms. Increased awareness of both issues among health practitioners is also warranted.

Type: Article
Title: Trajectories of loneliness and objective social isolation and associations between persistent loneliness and self-reported personal recovery in a cohort of secondary mental health service users in the UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12888-021-03430-9
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-021-03430-9
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s). 2021 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Psychiatry, Loneliness, Social isolation, Mental health, Personal recovery, PEOPLE, QUESTIONNAIRE, INTERVENTIONS, RISK
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10133943
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