Effects of loneliness on illness perception in persons with a chronic disease

J Clin Nurs. 2018 Apr;27(7-8):e1494-e1500. doi: 10.1111/jocn.14273. Epub 2018 Mar 25.


Aim and objectives: To determine the effects of loneliness on illness perception in persons with a chronic disease.

Background: How an illness is perceived not only affects all dimensions of a person's life but also plays an important role in his/her coping with the complications and consequences of the disease. One of the factors that influence the illness perception is loneliness.

Design: The study is a descriptive study.

Methods: The study sample included 206 individuals over the 18 years of age, conscious, having had a chronic illness at least 1 year, having no communication problems and agreeing to participate in the study after being informed about the study. Data were collected with the Personal Information Form, the Illness Perception Questionnaire and the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale. The forms were administered to the participants in an unoccupied patient room, and the data were collected through face-to-face interviews.

Results: The results of the study revealed that individuals with a chronic disease perceived emotional symptoms accompanying the disease more intensely that they accepted their disease was a chronic one and that their personal control and treatment control of the disease were at a middle level. The mean score the participants obtained from the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale was 38.49 ± 11.15. There was a significant negative correlation between this mean score and the mean scores obtained from the following subscales consequences, treatment control, illness perception and emotional representations.

Conclusion: In this study, it was concluded that the participants perceived their loneliness level as moderate and that their illness perception was negatively affected as their loneliness levels increased.

Relevance to clinical practice: The knowledge of clinical nurses about perception of patients with chronic illnesses and conditions affecting that perception will enhance compliance with the illness management or treatment strategies. Clinical nurses should observe residents closely for signs of depression and loneliness and support their sense of coherence to reduce emotional and social loneliness.

Keywords: chronic disease; illness perception; loneliness; nursing.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey