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Loneliness and personal wellbeing in young people: moderating effects of individual, social and community factors

Claire Goodfellow, Deborah Hardoon, Joanna Inchley, Alastair Leyland, Pamela Qualter, Sharon Simpson and Emily Long

No 3f8bt, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science

Abstract: The aim of the current study was to assess associations between loneliness and personal wellbeing among young people. Framed by social ecological theory, the study examined demographic, social, and community factors associated with personal wellbeing and, critically, identified malleable moderators of the relationship between loneliness and personal wellbeing that could be targeted in intervention efforts. We used cross-sectional, secondary data from 965 young people (aged 16-24) from the Community Life Survey in England. Loneliness was measured using a single-item direct measure; personal wellbeing was measured through a composite measure containing items relating to happiness, life satisfaction and a sense that life is worthwhile (α = 0.88). Regression techniques were used to assess direct associations between individual, social, and community factors and personal wellbeing, and identify factors that moderate the association between loneliness and personal wellbeing. Loneliness was negatively associated with wellbeing. Frequency of chatting with neighbours and having people to provide help moderated the relationship between loneliness and personal wellbeing. Young people who were full-time students or reported good physical health had higher personal wellbeing, while being a carer was predictive of decreased wellbeing. Having people to count on was the only social variable significantly associated with personal wellbeing, while all community factors were found to be strongly associated with increased wellbeing. Our results advance the current literature by identifying that supportive social relationships and close community ties are important for reducing the negative impact of loneliness on youth wellbeing. Intervention efforts to improve wellbeing could benefit from specifically targeting these aspects of young people’s social and community lives, while acknowledging individual vulnerabilities, such as poor physical health.

Date: 2021-07-23
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DOI: 10.31219/

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