Skip to main content Help with accessibility

The missing lonely - Exploring direct and indirect measures of loneliness


Latest research from The Health Foundation

Christmas gatherings and festivities can exacerbate negative feelings associated with being alone, but loneliness is an issue all year round. Loneliness is a concern because it is also associated with poor health outcomes.

However, despite increased policy interest in this area, understanding who is lonely and why remains difficult.

Simply asking someone how often they feel lonely may miss out individuals reluctant to admit how lonely they really are.

So what proportion of people are lonely?

Recent data from the UK household longitudinal study Understanding society sheds light on who is lonely using new indirect measures of loneliness.

These indicate that the population of lonely people is 13%, much larger than the 9% identified from the direct measures alone.

The Health Foundation also suggest that you can use this data to understand which groups of people feel lonelier than others and how these ‘missing lonely’ compare to the rest.