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Older people's experiences of loneliness in the UK: does gender matter?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John Bond


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Background: The extent and nature of loneliness in later life does not show a consistent relationship with gender. Our study investigates whether there are differences in the nature and extent of loneliness amongst older men and women in contemporary Britain. Method: Loneliness was measured using a self-report four-point scale in a nationally representative survey of people aged 65+ living in the community Data were also collected on the amount of time respondents spent alone and social contact/social participation as well as standard demographic and health factors. . Results: Survey response rate was 77% and the sample of 999 approximates to that of the general population and was almost equally divided between men (51%) and women (49%) and the characteristics of whom differed significantly on only 2 factors; marital status and living alone. Univariate analysis identified statistically significant differences between men and women in terms of time spent alone and self-reported loneliness (and changes in these two variables over the previous decade). Ordered logistic regression, indicated that gender was no longer statistically associated with loneliness once the confounding influence of marital status, age and living arrangements was excluded. Conclusion: The overall self- reported prevalence of severe loneliness shows little difference between older men and women. This indicates that loneliness in later life is a concern for both men and women and challenges the stereotype that loneliness is a specifically female experience. Interventions to alleviate loneliness need to be reflect this

Publication metadata

Author(s): Victor CR, Scambler SJ, Marston L, Bond J, Bowling A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Policy and Society

Year: 2005

Volume: 5

Issue: 1

Pages: 27-38

ISSN (print): 1474-7464

ISSN (electronic): 1475-3073

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1474746405002733



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