Loneliness, social support, social isolation and wellbeing among working age adults with and without disability: Cross-sectional study

Author(s)
Eric Emerson, Nicola Fortune, Gwynnth Llewellyn, Roger Stancliffe

Description

Background: Loneliness is significantly related to health and wellbeing. However, there is little information on the prevalence of loneliness among people with disability or the association between disability, loneliness and wellbeing.

Objective/hypothesis: For a nationally representative sample of adults (age 16–64) with/without disability, to examine exposure to three indicators of low social connectedness (loneliness, low perceived social support, social isolation), and to evaluate the association between low social connectedness and wellbeing. To test whether disability status moderated the relationship between low social connectedness and wellbeing.

Methods: Secondary analysis of data from three annual rounds of the cross-sectional English Community Life Survey (CLS) 2016–19.

Results: People with disability experienced loneliness, low perceived social support and social isolation at significantly higher rates than people without disability. Effect sizes were significantly greater for loneliness. Disability was associated with lower wellbeing. With one exception, low social connectedness was associated with lower wellbeing. Again, effect sizes were significantly greater for loneliness. The prevalence of loneliness was highest among adults with disability who were younger, economically inactive, living in rented or other accommodation, living alone and with low levels of access to environmental assets. There was no evidence that disability status moderated the association between exposure to low social connectedness and low wellbeing.

Conclusions: Loneliness was a particularly significant driver of poor wellbeing among people with disability. The relative independence between different indicators of social connectedness suggests that interventions to reduce loneliness will need to do more than simply increase rates of social contact or social support.

Suggested Citation

Emerson, E., Fortune, N., Llewellyn, G., & Stancliffe, R. (2021). Loneliness, social support, social isolation and wellbeing among working age adults with and without disability: Cross-sectional study. Disability and Health Journal, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2020.100965

Details

Date
2021-01-01 
Type
Peer-reviewed article 
Publisher
Institute on Community Integration