Perception and negative effect of loneliness in a Chicago Chinese population of older adults

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2012 Jan-Feb;54(1):151-9. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2011.04.022. Epub 2011 May 31.


This qualitative study aims to investigate the cultural understandings of loneliness, identify the contexts of loneliness, and to examine its effect on the health and well-being of U.S. Chinese older adults. Despite loneliness is one of the main indicators of well-being, little attention has been paid to understanding loneliness among immigrant older adults. This study utilizes both survey questionnaires and semi-structured focus group methods to investigate the feelings of loneliness among U.S. Chinese older adults. Based on interviews with 78 community-dwelling Chinese older adults in Chicago Chinatown, this community-based participatory research study (CBPR) shows loneliness is common among U.S. Chinese older adults. It was frequently identified through emotional isolation and social isolation. Social, psychological and physical health factors could contribute to the experience of loneliness. In addition, the health of older adults with loneliness may be associated with worsening overall health, elder mistreatment, health behavior changes and increased healthcare utilizations. This study has implications for healthcare professionals, social services agencies and policy makers. Our findings point to the needs for healthcare professionals to be more alert of the association of loneliness and adverse health outcomes. Communities and social services agencies should collectively take a lead in reducing social isolation, improving intergenerational relationships, and increasing social networks and companionship for this group of vulnerable older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People
  • Chicago
  • Culture
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Isolation