A community survey of loneliness


  • William Lauder PhD RMN,

  • Siobhan Sharkey BA PhD RMN,

  • Kerry Mummery PhD

William Lauder,
School of Nursing and Health Studies,
Central Queensland University,
Yaamba Road,
4701 Australia.
E-mail: w.lauder@cqu.edu.au


Background.  Loneliness is associated with an increased incidence of a wide range of physical and mental health problems. The detection, prevention and amelioration of loneliness is an important public health issue for nurses.

Methods.  This study reports findings from the 2002 Central Queensland Social Survey. The aims of the study were to (i) establish the extent of loneliness in a community sample; and (ii) to identify the factors that are predictors of loneliness. A random sample of 1241 subjects were interviewed by Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing. This interview included the Loneliness Scale formulated by De Jong Gierveld and Kamphuis.

Findings.  Loneliness is a common phenomenon and risk factors include experience of domestic violence in current relationship, not having recent paid employment, not being married/partnered, and the number of children under 18 years in a household. Loneliness is not associated with higher rates of health care professional consultations.

Conclusion.  Loneliness is a very common problem and should be seen as a major public health issue. Nurses, through a community capacity building framework, have a major role to play in the prevention of loneliness.