Pain as a Risk Factor for Loneliness Among Older Adults

Kerstin Emerson, Ian Boggero, Glenn Ostir, Jayani Jayawardhana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this is to examine whether pain is associated with the onset of loneliness in a sample of community-dwelling older adults. Methods: We used data from the 2008 and 2012 Health and Retirement Study. We limited the sample to community-dwelling persons aged 60 years and over who were not lonely in 2008 in order to predict the risk of onset of loneliness (incidence) in 2012. Our analytic sample included 1,563 observations. Results: Approximately 31.7% of participants reported loneliness at follow-up (2012). Logistic regression models showed that the odds of loneliness onset was 1.58 higher for those with pain at both time points, compared with those who had pain at neither time point, even after controlling for other covariates. Discussion: The results indicate that pain may increase the risk of loneliness in older adults. This suggests that appropriate pain interventions could prevent future loneliness, which in turn could prevent functional decline, disability, and premature mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1450-1461
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


  • loneliness
  • older adults
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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