Go to content

Sex-based trajectories of health system use in lonely and not lonely older people: a population-based cohort study


Background — There is growing interest in understanding the care needs of lonely people but studies are limited and examine healthcare settings separately. We estimated and compared healthcare trajectories in lonely and not lonely older female and male respondents to a national health survey.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study of community-dwelling, Ontario respondents (65+ years) to the 2008/2009 Canadian Community Health Survey—Healthy Aging. Respondents were classified at baseline as not lonely, moderately lonely, or severely lonely using the Three-Item Loneliness Scale and then linked with health administrative data to assess healthcare transitions over a 12 -year observation period. Annual risks of moving from the community to inpatient, long-stay home care, long-term care settings—and death—were estimated across loneliness levels using sex-stratified multistate models.

Results — Of 2684 respondents (58.8% female sex; mean age 77 years [standard deviation: 8]), 635 (23.7%) experienced moderate loneliness and 420 (15.6%) severe loneliness. Fewer lonely respondents remained in the community with no transitions (not lonely, 20.3%; moderately lonely, 17.5%; and severely lonely, 12.6%). Annual transition risks from the community to home care and long-term care were higher in female respondents and increased with loneliness severity for both sexes (e.g., 2-year home care risk: 6.1% [95% CI 5.5–6.6], 8.4% [95% CI 7.4–9.5] and 9.4% [95% CI 8.2–10.9] in female respondents, and 3.5% [95% CI 3.1–3.9], 5.0% [95% CI 4.0–6.0], and 5.4% [95% CI 4.0–6.8] in male respondents; 5-year long-term care risk: 9.2% [95% CI 8.0–10.8], 11.1% [95% CI 9.3–13.6] and 12.2% [95% CI 9.9–15.3] [female], and 5.3% [95% CI 4.2–6.7], 9.1% [95% CI 6.8–12.5], and 10.9% [95% CI 7.9–16.3] [male]).

Conclusions — Lonely older female and male respondents were more likely to need home care and long-term care, with severely lonely female respondents having the highest probability of moving to these settings.



Savage RD, Sutradhar R, Luo J, Strauss R, Guan J, Rochon PA, Gruneir A, Sanmartin C, Goel V, Rosella LC, Stall NM, Chamberlain SA, Yu  C, Bronskill SE. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2024; Feb 26 [Epub ahead of print].

View Source

Research Programs

Associated Sites