Loneliness survey - technical explanation

This survey uses an abbreviated form of the ‘Loneliness scale’ by De Jong Gierveld (De Jong Gierveld and Van Tilburg, 2006). This scale approaches the concept of loneliness as multidimensional, and a distinction is made between social and emotional isolation. The survey respondents are offered 6 statements of which 3 are related to social isolation and 3 to emotional isolation. The statements are as follows:

1. I experience a general sense of emptiness.
2. There are plenty of people I can lean on when I have problems
3. There are many people I can trust completely
4. I miss having people around
5. There are enough people I feel close to
6. I often feel rejected

Respondents may answer ‘yes’, ‘somewhat’ or ‘no’ in response to these statements. In determining the scores on the scale and the degree of loneliness, the guidelines were followed which were created by the developers of the scale (De Jong Gierveld and Van Tilburg, 1999). This involved the following sequence of steps: First, answers to these items are divided into two categories. When the answer is ‘somewhat’ or ‘yes’ (statements 2, 3 and 5 having been re-encoded), the participant’s is given a score of ‘1’ for that particular item. Subsequently, the total score is calculated by adding up the scores for all items. Finally, the total scores are divided into three groups: never lonely (score of 0 to 1), sometimes lonely (score of 2 to 4 inclusive) and frequently lonely (score of 5 or 6). The extent of social and emotional isolation is expressed on a scale from 0 to 3 inclusive based on the response to the relevant statements, with 0 indicating ‘never lonely’ and 3 ‘frequently lonely’. The intermediate categories of 1 and 2 represent ‘sometimes lonely’ in this case.
The survey questions in the 2019 ‘Social cohesion & well-being’ survey were answered by 7,398 individuals.
Back to article