Social isolation and loneliness as related to progression and reversion of frailty in the Survey of Health Aging Retirement in Europe (SHARE)

Carlotta Micaela Jarach, Mauro Tettamanti, Alessandro Nobili, Barbara D'avanzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Web of Science)


BACKGROUND: Frailty was shown to be associated with psychosocial risk factors, but there are few longitudinal data.

METHODS: We used data from waves 5 and 6 of the Survey of Health Aging Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to study the contribution of loneliness and social isolation to transitions towards frailty defined according to Fried criteria in a sample of 27,468 individuals aged ≥60.

RESULTS: At baseline, there were 13,069 (47.6%) robust individuals, 11,430 (41.6%) pre-frail and 2,969 (10.8%) frail. After 2 years, among robust subjects at baseline, 8,706 (61.8%) were still robust, 4,033 (30.8%) were pre-frail and 330 (2.6%) were frail. Among those who were pre-frail, 1,504 (13.2%) progressed to frail and 3,557 (31.1%) became robust. Among frail people, 182 (6.1%) reversed to robust and 1,271 (42.8%) to pre-frail. Average and high levels of loneliness and social isolation were significantly associated with the risk of robust people becoming frail and pre-frail (except robust with high loneliness to become frail), and of pre-frail people to become frail (except with average loneliness). Reversion to robustness was inversely associated with high levels of loneliness.

CONCLUSION: Average levels of loneliness and social isolation should not be considered acceptable and should be actively addressed even in the absence of any health conditions through an available evidence-based intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-262
Number of pages5
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Europe/epidemiology
  • Frail Elderly
  • Frailty/diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Loneliness
  • Retirement
  • Social Isolation
  • frailty
  • loneliness
  • older people
  • retirement
  • social isolation

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