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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2018, Vol. 50 Issue (9) : 1061-1070     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.01061
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Changes in loneliness among elderly people and its effect factors: A latent transition analysis
Guoting WU1,Minqiang ZHANG1,2(),Yuhan NI1,Yawei YANG1,Chengming QI1,Jianxing WU3
1 School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
2 Guangdong Psychological Association, Guangzhou 510631, China
3 Baiyun Mental Hospital, Guangzhou 510442, China
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Abstract  

The high prevalence of loneliness and various accompanying adverse consequences (e.g., depression, higher blood pressure, insomnia, immune stress responses and worse cognition) are becoming serious public concerns. To provide insights on prevention and intervention programs, this study examines the properties and development of loneliness behaviors in elderly people. Taking a longitudinal perspective enables researchers to understand who is expected to transition to a higher risk status in the future, which will help to predict symptoms so that tailored interventions can be designed to protect the elderly from loneliness.
Two-wave longitudinal data over 4 years were derived from the American Health and Retirement Study (HRS). A total of 3238 women and 2205 men in their 50s were recruited. Latent class and latent transition models were used to identify meaningful subgroups of the elderly with different symptoms (i.e., lack of companionship, being left out, isolation from others, lack of belonging, and withdrawn from society) to describe transitions between those classes over the study period and to examine the effects of covariates on the latent transition model. Six covariates, including gender, marital status, attitudes toward aging, life orientation, social support and daily activities, were examined as potential predictors of loneliness.
Four loneliness subgroups were identified: Mild Loneliness (Class 1), Social Loneliness (Class 2), Emotional Loneliness (Class 3), and Severe Loneliness (Class 4). Mild Loneliness status was the most prevalent, barely showing any lonely behavior, while relatively serious loneliness occurred in Social Loneliness, Emotional Loneliness and Severe Loneliness. Specifically, individuals in Social Loneliness lacked social intercourse relation, individuals in Emotional Loneliness lacked a close relationship, and individuals in Severe Loneliness had a high probability of exhibiting all the above mentioned symptoms. Elderly people in Mild Loneliness and Severe Loneliness were highly stable, while Social Loneliness and Emotional Loneliness tended to change to other statuses rather than remaining in the original status. Particularly, the participants in Social Loneliness demonstrated a prominent trend to transition to a less problematic status (Social Loneliness to Mild Loneliness), and the participants in Emotional Loneliness tended to change to a more problematic status (Emotional Loneliness to Severe Loneliness). All participants in the four subgroups showed a strong willingness to communicate with others. Results of multinomial logistic regression revealed that elderly males were more likely to be in the Emotional Loneliness group. In addition, more social support as well as a positive attitude toward aging and optimistic life orientation were more likely to keep elderly people from entering more severe loneliness statuses, indicating an ameliorated trend of loneliness that was expected.
This study demonstrated a transition pattern in elderly people loneliness with an individual-centered approach. Differential treatment effects were found across baseline loneliness classes, suggesting the benefits of tailoring intervention programs to yield good outcomes in elderly people.

Keywords elderly people      loneliness      latent transition analysis     
ZTFLH:  B844  
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Issue Date: 27 July 2018
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Guoting WU
Minqiang ZHANG
Yuhan NI
Yawei YANG
Chengming QI
Jianxing WU
Cite this article:   
Guoting WU,Minqiang ZHANG,Yuhan NI, et al. Changes in loneliness among elderly people and its effect factors: A latent transition analysis[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(9): 1061-1070.
URL:  
http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.01061     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2018/V50/I9/1061
时间点 类别数目 BIC AIC cAIC aBIC Entropy R2 p
T1 1 52499.93 52447.12 52507.93 52474.51 1.00 < 0.01
2 43466.61 43354.38 43483.61 43412.59 0.88 < 0.01
3 41982.45 41810.80 42008.45 41899.83 0.84 < 0.01
4 40760.63 40529.57 40795.63 40649.41 0.82 < 0.01
5 40762.10 40471.62 40802.96 40619.14 0.76 < 0.01
T2 1 53110.33 53057.52 53118.33 53084.91 1.00 < 0.01
2 44153.17 44040.94 44170.17 44099.15 0.88 < 0.01
3 42594.95 42423.30 42620.95 42512.33 0.85 < 0.01
4 41298.99 41067.92 41333.99 41187.77 0.83 < 0.01
5 41302.30 41011.81 41346.30 41162.48 0.82 < 0.01
  
  
  
时间点 低孤独感组 社交孤独组 情感孤独组 高孤独感组
T1 0.44 0.21 0.14 0.21
T2 0.43 0.20 0.16 0.21
低孤独感组 0.77 0.09 0.11 0.03
社交孤独组 0.24 0.51 0.10 0.15
情感孤独组 0.15 0.09 0.45 0.31
高孤独感组 0.06 0.21 0.13 0.60
  
影响因素 低孤独感组 社交孤独组 情感孤独组 高孤独感组 p
性别(0=女, 1=男) 0.90 0.74 1.43** REF < 0.01
婚姻状态
(0=无伴, 1=有伴)
2.24** 2.28** 0.96 REF < 0.01
老化态度 2.23** 1.37** 1.68** REF < 0.01
生活态度取向 2.41** 1.51** 1.33** REF < 0.01
社会支持 3.07** 1.94** 1.65** REF < 0.01
日常活动 1.15** 1.20** 0.89* REF < 0.01
  
影响因素 潜在状态 低孤独感组 社交孤独组 情感孤独组 高孤独感组 p
性别(0=女, 1=男) 低孤独感组 REF 0.67* 1.52** 1.13 < 0.01
社交孤独组 1.37 REF 1.49 1.30 > 0.05
情感孤独组 0.74 0.53 REF 0.64 > 0.05
高孤独感组 0.41** 0.73 0.95 REF < 0.01
婚姻状态(0=无伴, 1=有伴) 低孤独感组 REF 0.85 0.49** 0.85 < 0.01
社交孤独组 1.40 REF 0.82 0.70 < 0.05
情感孤独组 1.28 1.73 REF 0.88 > 0.05
高孤独感组 0.95 1.57 0.99 REF > 0.05
老化态度 低孤独感组 REF 0.67** 0.90 0.73* < 0.01
社交孤独组 1.28* REF 0.99 0.86 < 0.01
情感孤独组 1.22* 0.76 REF 0.74* < 0.01
高孤独感组 1.40* 1.05 1.41** REF < 0.01
生活态度取向 低孤独感组 REF 1.00 0.80** 0.69** < 0.01
社交孤独组 1.16 REF 1.01 0.83* < 0.05
情感孤独组 1.05 0.98 REF 0.71* < 0.05
高孤独感组 1.51** 1.27* 0.99 REF < 0.01
社会支持 低孤独感组 REF 0.80* 0.72** 0.55** < 0.01
社交孤独组 1.18 REF 0.73* 0.73** < 0.01
情感孤独组 1.30* 1.23 REF 0.85 < 0.05
高孤独感组 1.38* 1.44** 1.54** REF < 0.01
日常活动 低孤独感组 REF 0.96 0.86 1.02 > 0.05
社交孤独组 1.22* REF 0.83 0.92 < 0.05
情感孤独组 1.28** 1.18 REF 1.25* < 0.05
高孤独感组 0.84 1.16 0.94 REF > 0.05
  
孤独感条目 T1 T2 χ2
缺少同伴 43.40% 43.90% 0.272
被他人忽略 40.90% 40.00% 1.031
被他人孤立 32.30% 31.80% 0.331
周围的人围着你但并不关心你 51.30% 53.30% 4.296*
只要我需要, 就能找到伙伴 35.10% 38.30% 11.703**
有值得信赖的人 35.20% 37.90% 8.678**
因为孤僻, 我感到不开心 32.40% 34.90% 7.503**
我想要与人来往 5.30% 5.90% 1.463
  
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