The impact of social isolation on the health status and health-related quality of life of older people

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate for socially isolated older people, and older people at risk of social isolation: (1) health status and health-related quality of life (HRQL); (2) the relationship between social isolation and health status/HRQL; (3) the relationship between two alternative measures of health status/HRQL.

Methods

Older people at risk of social isolation (n = 393) completed the EQ-5D and the SF-12. Multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between levels of social isolation and health status/HRQL, controlling for demographic/clinical characteristics. The agreement between EQ-5D and SF-6D (SF-12) scores was explored using descriptive psychometric techniques.

Results

Health status and health state values were much lower than UK general population age-matched norms. After controlling for depression, physical co-morbidities, age, gender, living alone status, employment and accommodation, social isolation was significantly associated, to a degree that was clinically relevant, with EQ-5D DSI, SF-6D (SF-12) and SF-12 MCS scores. The potential for ceiling effects on the EQ-5D with this population was identified.

Conclusion

This work highlights the burden that social isolation may have on the health and well-being of older people. The potential HRQL gains from addressing social isolation may be considerable, with those at risk of social isolation also a key target group.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge the input and collaboration of Devon County Council and the community mentoring teams across the study area, and the support and enthusiasm of the study participants.

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Correspondence to Annie Hawton.

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Hawton, A., Green, C., Dickens, A.P. et al. The impact of social isolation on the health status and health-related quality of life of older people. Qual Life Res 20, 57–67 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-010-9717-2

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Keywords

  • Aged
  • Frail elderly
  • Social isolation
  • Health status
  • Quality of life