|Longitudinal Associations Between Loneliness and Prescription Medication Use.
|Year of Publication
|Lam, J, Vuolo, M
|J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
|2023 Apr 01
|Cross-Sectional Studies, depression, Humans, Loneliness, Longitudinal Studies, pain, Prescriptions
OBJECTIVES: Both loneliness and the use of psychotropic drugs are common in later life. Although loneliness has been found to be associated with psychotropic drug use, most studies have been cross-sectional, and we know less about their longitudinal associations.
METHODS: Drawing on five waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study and two statistical approaches (fixed-effects and cross-lagged panel models), we examine longitudinal associations between loneliness and the use of prescription pain and depression/anxiety medications.
RESULTS: Across 57,654 observations among 20,589 respondents, 22.8% reported regular use of pain prescription medications, 17.8% regular use of depression/anxiety prescription medication, and 15.6% feeling lonely in the past week. Loneliness and the use of depression/anxiety medications were associated according to both modeling approaches, net of covariates. In years when a respondent reported feeling lonely, the odds of regular use of depression/anxiety medications were 1.42 times higher (p < .001) than in years when they did not feel lonely. Regarding reciprocation, odds of regular depression/anxiety medication use in a given wave range from 1.3 to 1.5 times higher if loneliness was reported in the prior wave. Likewise, the odds of reporting loneliness in a given wave range from 1.5 to 1.8 times higher if regular depression/anxiety medication was reported in the prior wave.
DISCUSSION: Prior loneliness predicts contemporaneous regular use of depression/anxiety prescription medications. Although this confirms the directional association found in prior studies, we found prior use of depression/anxiety medications is also associated with increased odds of loneliness, suggesting further research is needed to understand mechanisms that explain their associations and potential interventions.
|PubMed Central ID