Objective: To estimate whether loneliness was associated with quality of life and examined the influence of socio-economic factors in the empty nest elderly.
Methods: The 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) and UCLA Loneliness Scale (UCLA-LS) were used to assess the quality of life and loneliness for 275 empty nest and 315 not empty nest rural elders in a county, China. T tests, Pearson's correlations and linear regression analysis were used to examine the difference in SF-36 and UCLA-LS scores, correlations of the two scores between the two groups, and socio-economic determinants of loneliness among the empty nest elders.
Results: Empty nest group, in comparison with not empty nest group, had higher level of loneliness (95% confidence interval [CI] = -3.361 to -.335), lower physical (95% CI = .228 to 6.044) and mental (95% CI = .866 to 6.380) scores. Loneliness was negatively correlated with all the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey scales in both groups. Social supports and income were negatively associated with loneliness, whereas education level and being single were positively associated with loneliness for the empty nest group.
Conclusions: Reducing the level of loneliness may be helpful to improve the quality of life for the empty nest elders.