Loneliness has reached epidemic levels in the United States. In May, the health insurance company Cigna published results from a…
Loneliness has reached epidemic levels in the United States.
In May, the health insurance company Cigna published results from a survey that found that most American adults are considered alone. Younger people, like Thousands and Generation Z, are the loneliest.
The company used a questionnaire based on the UCLA loneliness scale, which is the measure most used by researchers.
To help the rest of us get a sense of how lonely we can be, Cigna released a 10-question version of the questionnaire used for the UCLA loneliness scale on Wednesday. Daniel Russell, who created the original scale.
Being alone can have a major impact on your health, from disturbing sleep and increasing stress, to impair a person’s immune system. It is also associated with cognitive decline, heart disease and greater weakness later in life. And new research has shown that it has such a great effect on mortality that loneliness can be regarded as a threat to public health that is more harmful than obesity and as bad as smoking.
Read more: Loneliness can be a major public health threat than obesity ̵
1; and experts say it has suffered epidemic levels in the United States
“Solitude is a normal feeling,” Dr. Doug Nemecek, chief medical director for behavioral health at Cigna told Business Insider. Everyone will feel alone sometime in their lives. The key is to find out who can be chronically alone, which can adversely affect human health, he said.
The test is also run on questions like “How often do you feel isolated from others?” and “How often do you feel that you have much in common with the people around you?” with options to answer “never”, “rarely”, “sometimes” or “always”.
Screenshot via Cigna
As of February, Cigna, with the research company, Ipsos, examined 20,000 American adults 18 years or older to assess the loneliness of the UCLA questionnaire.
Any loneliness results ranged from 20 to 80 in the scale, with all over 43 qualified as “lonely”. The average was 44, which makes most Americans qualify as lonely.
Already half of the respondents reported sometimes or always feel lonely or omitted. About 27% of Americans said they felt that people rarely or never understand them. A fifth of respondents said they rarely or never felt close to people, and hardly half said they had no meaningful relationships or felt isolated.
Young people reported especially high loneliness levels, with rates that gradually decrease with age.
Kevin Loria contributed to reporting.