Correlates of loneliness among persons with psychotic disorders

  • Kelsey A. LudwigEmail author
  • Lana N. Nye
  • Grace L. Simmons
  • Lars F. Jarskog
  • Amy E. Pinkham
  • Philip D. Harvey
  • David L. Penn
Original Paper



Persons diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs) often experience pervasive feelings of loneliness, which are considered a significant barrier to treatment and recovery.


As impaired social cognition may contribute to increased loneliness and less skillful social interactions, this study examines the relationships between loneliness and measures of social cognition and functional outcome from the Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE) study.


This study evaluated the relationship between loneliness, social cognitive ability, and social functioning in the context of a large-scale psychometric investigation. We also explored the associations of select demographic characteristics and clinical variables on the endorsement of loneliness in persons diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.


Seventy-four stable outpatients with SSDs and 58 healthy controls completed the UCLA Loneliness Scale in addition to the standard SCOPE battery. Our findings support prior research indicating persons diagnosed with a psychotic disorder experience greater levels of loneliness than normative groups. However, the results also indicate that self-reported loneliness is not associated with social cognitive abilities or functional outcome in psychosis. Regression analyses indicate that roughly half the variance in loneliness endorsed by persons with SSDs is accounted for by clinical variables, with loneliness most strongly associated with guilt and self-esteem.


These findings suggest that treatments aiming to reduce perceived social isolation in psychosis should incorporate techniques to bolster selfesteem, reduce guilt, and improve depressive symptoms.


Loneliness Psychosis Schizophrenia Social cognition Self-esteem Guilt 



This research was supported by Grant MH93432 to Drs. Harvey, Penn, and Pinkham from the National Institute of Mental Health. We would like to thank all individuals who participated in this investigation, including all research subjects and research assistants at the participating sites for their significant effort and contributions to the SCOPE study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Harvey has received consulting fees or travel reimbursements from Alkermes, Akili, Boehringer Ingelheim, Intra Cellular Therapies, Otsuka America, Sanofi Pharma, Sunovion Pharma, Takeda Pharma, and Teva Pharma during the past year. He has a research grant from Takeda and from the Stanley Medical Research Foundation. In the past 3 years, Dr. Jarskog has received research grant funding from NIH, Auspex/Teva, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Otsuka. The remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest pertinent to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelsey A. Ludwig
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lana N. Nye
    • 2
  • Grace L. Simmons
    • 3
  • Lars F. Jarskog
    • 4
  • Amy E. Pinkham
    • 5
    • 6
  • Philip D. Harvey
    • 7
    • 8
  • David L. Penn
    • 1
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.College of Social WorkThe University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North Carolina School of MedicineChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.School of Behavioral and Brain SciencesThe University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical SchoolDallasUSA
  7. 7.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Miami Miller School of MedicineMiamiUSA
  8. 8.Research ServiceMiami VA Healthcare SystemMiamiUSA
  9. 9.School of PsychologyAustralian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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