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A meta-analysis of loneliness and use of primary health care

Sirois, Fuschia M.; Owens, Janine


Janine Owens


Loneliness is a growing public health concern that is associated with a range of negative health outcomes. The extent to which loneliness may also be associated with greater use of primary health care remains unclear. The present meta-analysis aimed to address this gap by quantifying research on the association of loneliness to primary health care use. The database searches yielded 23 eligible studies with 25 effects, total N = 113,639. A random effects meta-analysis revealed a small positive average effect size (ravg = .094; 95% CI [.07, .12])between loneliness and the use of primary care that increased in magnitude as the proportion of females in the samples increased. Studies that used objective measures of primary care use yielded effects that were significantly larger than those using self-report measures. The effects were robust to differences in age and type of health-care systems, and the type of loneliness scale (single versus multi-item). The findings from this first comprehensive meta-analysis of the association of loneliness with use of primary care indicate that people who experience loneliness make a greater number of visits to primary-care practitioners. This evidence highlights the practical impact of loneliness on health-care use when viewed at the population level.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 23, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 7, 2021
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2022
Journal Health Psychology Review
Print ISSN 1743-7199
Electronic ISSN 1743-7202
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Public URL
Additional Information This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (