Relationship between loneliness and mental health in students

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Richardson, Thomas ; Elliott, Peter ; Roberts, Ron ; Jansen, Megan (2017)

Purpose: Previous cross-sectional research has examined effect of loneliness on mental health. This study aimed to examine longitudinal relationships in students. <br/><br/>Design/Methodology: 454 British undergraduate students completed measures of loneliness and mental health at four time points.<br/><br/>Findings: After controlling for demographics and baseline mental health, greater loneliness predicted greater anxiety, stress, depression and general mental health over time. There was no evidence that mental health problems increased loneliness over time. There was no relationship with alcohol problems. Baseline loneliness predicted greater eating disorder risk at follow-up and vice versa.<br/><br/>Research Limitations/Implications: This study is limited by a relatively small and heavily female sample. <br/><br/>Implications: Social and psychological interventions to reduce loneliness in university settings may improve mental health.
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