Background: This study aimed to assess the association between loneliness and Health-Related Quality of Life (HR-QoL) among community-dwelling older citizens in five European countries. We characterize loneliness broadly from an emotional and social perspective. Methods: This cross-sectional study measured loneliness with the 6-item De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale and HR-QoL with the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey. The association between loneliness and HR-QoL was examined using multivariable linear regression models. Results: Data of 2169 citizens of at least 70 years of age and living independently (mean age = 79.6 ± 5.6; 61% females) were analyzed. Among the participants, 1007 (46%) were lonely; 627 (29%) were emotionally and 575 (27%) socially lonely. Participants who were lonely experienced a lower HR-QoL than participants who were not lonely (p ≤ 0.001). Emotional loneliness [std-β: -1.39; 95%-CI: -1.88 to -0.91] and social loneliness [-0.95; -1.44 to -0.45] were both associated with a lower physical HR-QoL. Emotional loneliness [-3.73; -4.16 to -3.31] and social loneliness [-1.84; -2.27 to -1.41] were also both associated with a lower mental HR-QoL. Conclusions: We found a negative association between loneliness and HR-QoL, especially between emotional loneliness and mental HR-QoL. This finding indicates that older citizens who miss an intimate or intense emotional relationship and interventions targeting mental HR-QoL deserve more attention in policy and practice than in the past.
Keywords: community-dwelling older citizens; emotional loneliness; health related quality of life; loneliness; social loneliness.