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Are we measuring loneliness in the same way in men and women in the general population and in the older population? Two studies of measurement equivalence

Pollet, TV, Thompson, A, Malcolm, C, McCarty, K, Saxton, TK and Roberts, SGB (2022) Are we measuring loneliness in the same way in men and women in the general population and in the older population? Two studies of measurement equivalence. PLOS ONE, 17 (12).

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0266167 (Published version)


Background: High levels of loneliness are associated with negative health outcomes and there are several different types of interventions targeted at reducing feelings of loneliness. It is therefore important to accurately measure loneliness. A key unresolved debate in the conceptualisation and measurement of loneliness is whether it has a unidimensional or multidimensional structure. The aim of this study was to examine the dimensional structure of the widely used UCLA Loneliness Scale and establish whether this factorial structure is equivalent in men and women.
Methods and sample: Two online UK-based samples were recruited using Prolific. The participants in Study 1 were 492 adults, selected to be nationally representative by age and gender, whilst the participants in Study 2 were 290 older adults aged over 64. In both studies, participants completed the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3) as part of a larger project.
Results: In both studies, the best fitting model was one with three factors corresponding to ‘Isolation,’ ‘Relational Connectedness,’ and ‘Collective Connectedness.’ A unidimensional single factor model was a substantially worse fit in both studies. In both studies, there were no meaningful differences between men and women in any of the three factors, suggesting measurement invariance across genders.
Conclusion: These results are consistent with previous research in supporting a multidimensional, three factor structure to the UCLA scale, rather than a unidimensional structure. Further, the measurement invariance across genders suggests that the UCLA scale can be used to compare levels of loneliness across men and women. Overall the results suggest that loneliness has different facets and thus future research should consider treating the UCLA loneliness scale as a multidimensional scale, or using other scales which are designed to measure the different aspects of loneliness.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: General Science & Technology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2023 13:01
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2023 13:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0266167
Editors: Ali, Ghaffar
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18531
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