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06-04-2020 | Uitgave 9/2020

Quality of Life Research 9/2020

Factors associated with social isolation in community-dwelling older adults: a cross-sectional study

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 9/2020
Reshma A. Merchant, Shumei Germaine Liu, Jia Yi Lim, Xiaoxi Fu, Yiong Huak Chan
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-020-02493-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Social isolation in older adults is a major public health problem and associated with increased morbidity and mortality. There are limited data on the association between social isolation and physical function including gait speed. Hence, this study is to determine the prevalence of social isolation and its association with gait speed, frailty, cognition, depression and comorbidities amongst community-dwelling older adults.


Social isolation, depression, frailty and perceived general health were assessed using 6-item Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), FRAIL scale and EuroQol EQ-5D-5L questionnaire which includes EQ Visual Analogue Scale (EQ-VAS), respectively. Cognition was assessed using the Chinese Mini Mental State Examination (cMMSE), while physical performance test included gait speed and short physical performance battery test. Binary logistic regression was performed to determine the influence of socio-demographic, medical, functional and cognitive variables on social isolation.


Out of 202 participants, 27.7% were robust, 66.8% of participants were pre-frail, and 5.4% of participants were frail. Almost half (45.5%, n = 92) of the participants were found to be at risk of social isolation. A poor social network was negatively associated with mean gait speed (OR = 0.674, CI 0.464–0.979, p = 0.039), EQ-VAS (OR = 0.561, CI 0.390–0.806, p < 0.01) and cMMSE (OR = 0.630, 95% CI 0.413–0.960, p = 0.032).


Almost half of older adults in the community are at risk of social isolation with a very significant association with gait speed, cMMSE and EQ-VAS scores.

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