Loneliness and Multiple Health Domains
Associations Among Emerging Adults
Published in: Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2022). doi: 10.1007/s10865-021-00267-1
Posted on RAND.org on February 08, 2022
Emerging adults (18–25 years), particularly racially/ethnically diverse and sexual and gender minority populations, may experience loneliness following major life transitions. How loneliness relates to health and health disparities during this developmental period is not well understood. We examine associations of loneliness with physical (self-rated health), behavioral (alcohol/marijuana consequences; nicotine dependence), and health behavior outcomes (weekday and weekend sleep; trouble sleeping), and investigate moderating effects by sex, race/ethnicity, and sexual/gender minority (SGM) status. Adjusted models using cross-sectional data from 2,534 emerging adults, predominantly in California, examined associations between loneliness and each outcome and tested interactions of loneliness with sex, race/ethnicity, and SGM status. Higher loneliness was significantly associated with worse self-rated health, higher marijuana consequences, less weekday sleep, and greater odds of feeling bothered by trouble sleeping. None of the interactions were significant. Findings suggest that interventions to reduce loneliness may help promote healthy development among emerging adults across subgroups.