Patterns of loneliness in an immigrant population

Compr Psychiatry. 2004 Sep-Oct;45(5):408-14. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2004.03.011.


Loneliness has been recognized as a public health problem that requires the attention of clinicians and researchers both as a condition in itself and in its relation to other conditions. This study sought to examine the relationship between self-reported loneliness, psychological distress, and social support among immigrants. A community survey of 386 recent immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union was conducted using the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale (R-UCLA-LS), Talbieh Brief Distress Inventory (TBDI), and Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS). A cross-sectional design, and correlation and factor analyses were used to study the relationship between the studied variables. The distress-related and distress-free patterns of loneliness were distinguished as independent constructs, each with a specific sphere of influence. Distress-related loneliness accounted for 56.3% and distress-free for 18.2% of the total variance in individual loneliness scores. Distress-related loneliness is a generalized negative experience embedded in an array of distress symptoms, while distress-free loneliness appears to be a normal psychological reaction to dissatisfaction with current friend support. An important implication of this study in mental health practice is the sensitivity to these differences when treating recent immigrants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychology
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires