A Systematic Review of Loneliness and Common Chronic Physical Conditions in Adults

Trisha Petitte1, Jennifer Mallow1, 4, Emily Barnes1, Ashley Petrone2, 3, Taura Barr1, 2, 3, 4, Laurie Theeke1, 4, *
1 West Virginia University School of Nursing, United State of America
2 Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Center for Neuroscience, West Virginia, United State of America
3 Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, West Virginia, United State of America
4 Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar, United State of America

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Creative Commons License
© 2015 Petitte et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the West Virginia University School of Nursing, USA; E-mail:


Loneliness is a prevalent and global problem for adult populations and has been linked to multiple chronic conditions in quantitative studies. This paper presents a systematic review of quantitative studies that examined the links between loneliness and common chronic conditions including: heart disease, hypertension, stroke, lung disease, and metabolic disorders. A comprehensive literature search process guided by the PRISMA statement led to the inclusion of 33 articles that measure loneliness in chronic illness populations. Loneliness is a significant biopsychosocial stressor that is prevalent in adults with heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and lung disease. The relationships among loneliness, obesity, and metabolic disorders are understudied but current research indicates that loneliness is associated with obesity and with psychological stress in obese persons. Limited interventions have demonstrated long-term effectiveness for reducing loneliness in adults with these same chronic conditions. Future longitudinal randomized trials that enhance knowledge of how diminishing loneliness can lead to improved health outcomes in persons with common chronic conditions would continue to build evidence to support the translation of findings to recommendations for clinical care.

Keywords: Chronic Condition, Loneliness, Systematic Review.