Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between loneliness in elderly people with the use of psychotropic drugs.
Methods: A subsample of 3111 participants (ages 55-85) of the large population-based German ESTHER study was included in the study. Loneliness was measured by using a three-item questionnaire. Two subgroups were defined according to their degrees of loneliness. Psychotropic drugs were categorized by study doctors. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the association between loneliness subgroups and the use of psychotropic drugs adjusted for psychosocial variables, multimorbidity, depression, anxiety, and somatic symptom severity.
Results: Of the participants 14.1% (95%-CI=[12.9; 15.4]) were estimated to have a high degree of loneliness (women 〉 men); 19% (95%-CI=[17.6; 20.4]) of the participants used psychotropic drugs, 8.4% (95%-CI=[7.5; 9.5]) antidepressants. Logistic regression analysis showed that more lonely participants had significantly higher odds for using psychotropic drugs (OR: 1.495; 95%-CI=[1.121; 1.993]). Depression severity, somatic symptom severity, and female gender were also positively associated with the use of psychotropic drugs.
Conclusion: A high degree of subjective loneliness in the elderly is associated with the use of psychotropic drugs, even after adjustment for somatic and psychological comorbidities and psychosocial variables.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published