Loneliness and health care consumption among older people.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Few studies have investigated loneliness in relation to health care consumption among frail older people. The aim of this study was to examine loneliness, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and health complaints in relation to health care consumption of in- and outpatient care among frail older people living at home. The study, with a cross-sectional design, comprised a sample of 153 respondents aged from 65 years (mean age 81.5 years) or older, who lived at home and were frail. Data was collected utilising structured interviews in the respondent's home assessing demographic data, loneliness, HRQoL and health complaints. Patient administrative registers were used to collect data on health care consumption. Loneliness was the dependent variable in the majority of the analyses and dichotomised. For group comparisons Student's t-test, Mann-Whitney U-test and Chi-square test were used. The results showed that 60% of the respondents had experienced loneliness during the previous year, at least occasionally. The study identified that lonely respondents had a lower HRQoL (p = 0.022), with a higher total number of reported health complaints (p = 0.001), and used more outpatient services including more acute visits at the emergency department, compared to not lonely respondents (p = 0.026). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that a depressed mood was independently associated to total use of outpatient care (B = 7.4, p < 0.001). Therefore, it might not be loneliness, per se, that is the reason for seeking health care. However, reasons for using health care services are difficult to determine due to the complex situation for the frail older person. To avoid emergency department visits and to benefit the well-being of the frail older person, interventions targeting the complex health situation, including loneliness, are suggested.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nursing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-443
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Volume29
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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