Loneliness among UK Veterans: Associations with quality of life, alcohol misuse, and perceptions of partner drinking

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Abstract

Introduction: Loneliness occurs when there is a disparity between the quantity and quality of social relationships people have and the ones they want. Research shows loneliness is negatively associated with quality of life and alcohol misuse, two common issues for military Veterans. Loneliness can also be affected by partner drinking, particularly if it does not match Veterans’ drinking behaviour. This study aimed to explore 1) the association between loneliness, quality of life, and alcohol misuse, and 2) the association between perceived partner drinking and loneliness in a sample of treatment-seeking UK Veterans. Methods: A total of 163 treatment-seeking UK Veterans completed a self-report questionnaire via the DrinksRation smartphone application. Loneliness was measured using the 3-item UCLA Loneliness Scale. Linear regressions explored associations between loneliness, quality of life, and alcohol misuse. Logistic regressions explored associations between perceived partner drinking and loneliness. Results: Almost two-thirds of participants reported feeling lonely (65.6%). Unadjusted linear regressions showed lonely Veterans had lower quality-of-life scores across all domains and higher alcohol misuse scores than non-lonely Veterans. After full adjustment, loneliness was significantly associated only with the physical health and social relationships quality of life domains. Logistic regressions revealed no significant associations between perceptions of partner drinking and loneliness. Discussion: This study found lonely treatment-seeking Veterans had poorer quality of life and higher alcohol misuse than non-lonely counterparts. Innovative ways to reduce loneliness and improve social connectedness for Veterans are required, particularly for those with mental health needs and who drink heavily.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-99
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Military, Veteran and Family Health
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2023

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