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Purpose: Loneliness disproportionately affects people with mental disorders, but associations with mental health outcomes in groups affected remain less well understood.

Method: A cohort of patients receiving mental healthcare on 30th June 2012 was assembled from a large mental health records database covering a south London catchment area. Recorded loneliness within the preceding 2 years was extracted using natural language processing and outcomes were measured between 30th June 2012 until 30th December 2019, except for survival which applied a censoring point of 6th December 2020 according to data available at the time of extraction. The following mental healthcare outcomes: (i) time to first crisis episode; (ii) time to first emergency presentation; (iii) all-cause mortality; (iv) days active to service per year; and (v) face-to-face contacts per year.

Results: Loneliness was recorded in 4,483 (16.7%) patients in the study population and fully adjusted models showed associations with subsequent crisis episode (HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.07-1.29), emergency presentation (HR 1.30, 1.21-1.40), days active per year (IRR 1.04, 1.03-1.05), and face-to-face contacts per year (IRR 1.28, 1.27-1.30). Recorded loneliness in patients with substance misuse problems was particularly strongly associated with adverse outcomes, including risk of emergency presentation (HR 1.68, 1.29-2.18) and mortality (HR 1.29, 1.01-1.65).

Conclusion: Patients receiving mental healthcare who are recorded as lonely have a higher risk of several adverse outcomes which may require a need for higher service input.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberPMID: 38622311 DOI: 10.1007/s00127-024-02663-9
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Early online date15 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024


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