Theses Doctoral

Loneliness And Chronic Pain among US Community-Dwelling US Older Adults: Is There A Relationship? Is there Variability by Race/Ethnicity?

Camacho, David

Loneliness and Chronic pain are associated with multiple negative health outcomes. Yet, limited research has examined the relationship between these experiences. The older adult population in the US is growing and becoming more diverse, yet limited examination of loneliness or chronic pain exists among racial/ethnic minority older adults. In this dissertation I explore if there is a relationship between loneliness and chronic pain. I examine if loneliness precedes the development of pain and/or if it enhances the likelihood of developing chronic pain. Finally, I explore if these relationships vary by race/ethnicity. For this dissertation, I examine community dwelling US older adults from waves 2 and 3 of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. This study was guided by an overarching lens of “suffering” and the Diathesis Stress Model of Chronic Pain. I use multiple imputation to treat missing data. I use logistic regression analyses with covariates including important sociodemographic as well as physical and mental health variables. The prevalence of CSCP in this sample is 17%. I identify no statistically significant differences between US Born Latinos, Foreign Born Latinos and Whites. I also find that chronic loneliness is positively associated with both chronic pain and that loneliness may enhance the likelihood of developing acute pain. My results indicate possible differential effects of loneliness on chronic pain by race/ethnicity. The presence of loneliness and chronic pain among community dwelling older adults in the US is high. Despite not finding a difference in prevalence between African American, Latinos and Whites, I highlight that due to limited clinically tailored interventions for African American and Latino older adults, they may still be vulnerable to enhanced negative effects. I advocate for the enhanced screening and understanding of these common experiences and for the implementation of sustainable interventions to address the needs of diverse US older adults.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Lukens, Ellen
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 5, 2020