Methods: Loneliness was measured via the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Russell, 1996); emotional well-being and physical functioning via the Rand 36-Item Health Survey (SF-36, Rand, 1994); spirituality via the Intrinsic Spirituality Scale (Hodge, 2003), and sense of community connectedness via the Sense of Community Index II (Chavis, Lee, & Acosta, 2008). The combined survey instrument was administered through individual interviews with 40 out of 279 tenants,who expressed an interest in participating in the study. The sample was 60 percent male and 57 percent Caucasian,and 20 percent multi-racial. The majority had completed some college; 15 percent were veterans of the United States military.
Results: Findings revealed high levels of loneliness with 82 percent of the sample reporting frequent episodes of moderate to severe loneliness. Multiple linear regression results indicated that the four independent variables predicted 34.7 percent of the variance in loneliness (f = 6.192; p< .001). Physical functioning was not an independent predictor(b= .125; p= .417), and contrary to the study hypothesis, higher emotional well being (b= .422; p< .01)and a stronger sense of community connectedness (b= .332; p< .05) were associated with higher levels of loneliness. Consistent with the study hypothesis, greater intrinsic spirituality (b= -.297; p< .05) was associated with lower reported loneliness.
Conclusion and Implications: Amongst this sample, results suggest that older tenants may experience loneliness in spite of having high emotional well being and feeling connected to the community as a whole. In addition, finding meaning in their spirituality can potentially serve as a protection against loneliness. Findings should be interpreted with caution as the participants were self-selected and may not be representative of all older tenants in the building or living in subsidized housing. However, loneliness reduction interventions in these settings might achieve greater leverage if targeted toward all tenants rather than those perceived at higher risk to experience loneliness, and by incorporating tenants’ spiritual values into social isolation reduction efforts.