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Introduction

Previous studies have identified a strong desire for social connection in humans, with the levels and quality of social connection found to be important in shaping development across the life span, particularly in later life.

Recent research has shown that emotional closeness in relationships generally increases with age.  However, ageing is normally associated with a decrease in the number of social relationships and an increase in social events that trigger significant disruptions to social ties (e.g., death of a parent, children leaving home, relocation, death of a spouse).

When and individual’s intimate and social needs are not adequately met, a complex set of feelings termed loneliness occur.  Loneliness has been associated with a range of poor mental, physical and socio‑economic outcomes, including low self-esteem, suicide, depression, heart disease and poor physical health.

Relationships Australia first focussed on loneliness in the October 2014 monthly online survey by asking visitors to our website a series of questions about their levels of support.  In the February 2017 survey, we asked visitors to our website to respond to a three-item scale that was designed to measure loneliness.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites