Measuring social isolation in the national health and aging trends study

Janet S. Pohl, Barbara B. Cochrane, Karen G. Schepp, Nancy F. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The objectives of the current study were to describe the development of a social isolation measure based on Berkman and Syme’s Social Network Index domains with data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study. A descriptive correlational design was used, establishing convergent and divergent validity of the measure with depression risk and well-being. Depression risk was measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 and an ordinal well-being measure was developed based on measures in MIDUS–Midlife in the U.S.-A Study of National Health and Well-Being. Participants who scored ≥4 (cutoff point) on the social isolation measure represented 21.9% (N = 7,609) of the sample (95% confidence interval [20.6, 23.3]). Spearman’s correlation with depression was 0.23 (p < 0.001) and -0.24 (p ≤ 0.001) with well-being. The weighted data complex samples general linear model with depression (R = 0.22, p ≤ 0.001) and well-being (R = -0.26, p ≤ 0.001) confirm the relationships. This measure offers conceptual clarity and measurement consistency for developing the components and targets for future social isolation intervention research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-287
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Gerontological Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Gerontology
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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