The Relationship Between Loneliness and Positive Affect in Older Adults.
Published on Jun 1, 2022in American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
· DOI :10.1016/j.jagp.2021.11.002
To establish whether positive affect (PA) is uniquely associated with loneliness and other social functioning variables beyond negative affect (NA) among older adults.Four hundred and twenty-eight participants (aged 60+ years old, 82% White, and 48% female) were recruited using random digit-dialing and completed scales for loneliness (UCLA Loneliness Scale), companionship (PROMIS scale), satisfaction with discretionary social activities (PROMIS scale), PA (Center for Epidemiologic Studies [CES] Happiness Scale), and NA (CES-Depression scale and Brief Symptom Inventory-Anxiety Subscale).Multiple linear regression models found PA to be a significant predictor of lower loneliness where the effect of PA on loneliness is dependent on the level of NA; a large effect size at the mean level of NA, which becomes attenuated when NA increases. Although the direction of effect of PA on loneliness will change for NA > 5.10, which is 5 standard deviations away from 0, based on the model estimates, the percent of subjects with this large NA levels is practically 0. Thus, higher PA is associated with lower loneliness, however this effect is attenuated for larger NA. Similarly, multiple linear regression models found that companionship was associated with PA and NA where the effect of PA is dependent on the level of NA; a medium effect size at the mean level of NA, which becomes attenuated when NA increases. As in the case of loneliness, the direction of effect of PA on companionship will change for NA > 3.52, which is 3.5 standard deviation away from 0, based on the model estimates, but the percent of subjects with this large NA levels is practically 0. Thus, higher PA is associated with increased companionship, aand this effect is attenuated with greater NA. Satisfaction with social activities was associated with PA only (medium effect size).Results suggest PA appears to be uniquely associated with social functioning among older adults. These findings support the potential for treatments that target PA to decrease loneliness among older adults, or vice versa.