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Loneliness as a risk factor for care home admission in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Barbara Hanratty, Dr Daniel StowORCiD, Dr Nicole Valtorta, Professor Fiona MatthewsORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Oxford University Press, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Background: Loneliness has an adverse effect on health and wellbeing, and is common at older ages. Evidence that it is a risk factor for care home admission is sparse. Objective: To investigate the association between loneliness and care home admission Setting: English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) Particpants: 254 Individuals across seven waves (2002-2015) of ELSA who moved into care homes were age, sex matched to four randomly selected individuals who remained in the community. Methods: Logistic regression models examined associations between loneliness, socio-demographic factors, functional status, and health on moving into care homes. Results: Loneliness (measured by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Loneliness Scale and a single-item question from the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)) was associated with moving into a care home (CES-D OR 2·13, 95%CI 1·43-3·17, p=0·0002, UCLA OR 1·81, 95%CI 1·01-3·27, p=0·05). The association persisted after adjusting for established predictors (age, sex, social isolation, depression, memory problems including diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, disability, long-term physical health, and wealth). The impact of loneliness (measured by CES-D) on admission accounted for a population attributable fraction of 19·9% (95% CI 7·8%-30·4%). Conclusions: Loneliness conveys an independent risk of care home admission that, unlike other risk factors, may be amenable to modification. Tackling loneliness amongst older adults may be a way of enhancing wellbeing and delaying or reducing the demand for institutional care.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hanratty B, Stow D, Collingridge Moore D, Valtorta NK, Matthews FE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Age and Ageing

Year: 2018

Volume: 47

Issue: 6

Pages: 896-900

Print publication date: 01/11/2018

Online publication date: 10/07/2018

Acceptance date: 25/05/2018

Date deposited: 25/05/2018

ISSN (print): 0002-0729

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2834

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afy095


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Funder referenceFunder name
Medical Research Council
National Institute for Health Research