Performance of an abbreviated version of the Lubben Social Network Scale among three European community-dwelling older adult populations

Gerontologist. 2006 Aug;46(4):503-13. doi: 10.1093/geront/46.4.503.


Purpose: There is a need for valid and reliable short scales that can be used to assess social networks and social supports and to screen for social isolation in older persons.

Design and methods: The present study is a cross-national and cross-cultural evaluation of the performance of an abbreviated version of the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6), which was used to screen for social isolation among community-dwelling older adult populations in three European countries. Based on the concept of lack of redundancy of social ties we defined clinical cut-points of the LSNS-6 for identifying persons deemed at risk for social isolation.

Results: Among all three samples, the LSNS-6 and two subscales (Family and Friends) demonstrated high levels of internal consistency, stable factor structures, and high correlations with criterion variables. The proposed clinical cut-points showed good convergent validity, and classified 20% of the respondents in Hamburg, 11% of those in Solothurn (Switzerland), and 15% of those in London as at risk for social isolation.

Implications: We conclude that abbreviated scales such as the LSNS-6 should be considered for inclusion in practice protocols of gerontological practitioners. Screening older persons based on the LSNS-6 provides quantitative information on their family and friendship ties, and identifies persons at increased risk for social isolation who might benefit from in-depth assessment and targeted interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • England
  • Family / psychology
  • Friends / psychology
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Social Support*
  • Switzerland