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.