Geographic Characteristics of Loneliness in Primary Care

Ann Fam Med. 2019 Mar;17(2):158-160. doi: 10.1370/afm.2364.


Loneliness is associated with poor health outcomes, and there is growing attention on loneliness as a social determinant of health. Our study sought to determine the associations between community factors and loneliness. The Three-Item Loneliness Scale and zip codes of residence were collected in primary care practices in Colorado and Virginia. Living in zip codes with higher unemployment, poor access to health care, lower income, higher proportions of blacks, and poor transportation was associated with higher mean loneliness scores. Future studies that examine interventions addressing loneliness may be more effective if they consider social context and community characteristics.

Keywords: loneliness; social determinants of health; social isolation.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Colorado
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Geography
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Loneliness*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transportation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Virginia