Title : Loneliness amongst addictions populations Validation of the social and emotional loneliness scale for adults short version
Introduction: Loneliness is a distressing emotional experience that is problematic for people accessing treatment for substance dependence problems. The first aim of the current study was to report on the validity of the Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults-Short version (SELSA-S), for use in substance dependent treatment populations. In order to further the understanding of loneliness amongst this population, demographic, and physical and mental health variables were examined in relation loneliness.
Method: Participants were attending Australian residential substance dependence treatment services provided by two non-government organizations. Participants completed cross-sectional surveys (N=316) consisting of measures of demographics, substance use, loneliness, and physical and mental health.
Key findings: Confirmatory factor analysis revealed high factor loadings and good concurrent and discriminant validity and reliability for the SELSA-S, however, model fit indices did not meet pre-specified cut-off criteria. Loneliness was deemed to be a serious problem for 69% of respondents, and 79% reported feeling lonely at least once per month. The highest levels of loneliness were experienced in the form of romantic loneliness (M=23.66, SD=8.20). The substance dependent population was found to be almost seven times more likely to experience loneliness on a monthly basis or more frequently, compared to the general population, OR= 6.82, 95% CI [4.79, 9.69]. Similarly, the substance dependent population was over five times more likely to identify loneliness as a serious concern, OR=5.76, 95% CI [4.22, 7.86].
Conclusions: Substance dependent populations appear to experience higher rates of loneliness compared with the general population and those reporting higher levels of loneliness also experienced poorer physical and mental health. Findings of this study suggest the need for further research into the validity of the SELSA-S for use with substance dependent populations.