Background: Living alone has become more common in today’s societies. Despite the high number of the population living alone, research directed towards the mental wellbeing issues related to living alone has been limited. This systematic literature review aimed to assess the association between living alone and positive mental health.
Methods: We conducted searches in Medline, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and other complementary databases from January 1998 to May 2019. Randomised trials and observational studies investigating adults over 18?years of age and living alone (defined as living in a single household or a household size of one person) were eligible. The primary outcome was positive mental health, defined as comprising both hedonic and eudaimonic elements of mental wellbeing, and it was measured with the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale and/or the WHO-5 Index. Two reviewers independently screened and selected data; one reviewer extracted data, and the second checked the extracted data. A narrative synthesis described the quality and content of the evidence. Included studies were appraised using relevant Joanna Briggs Institute checklist.
Results: A total of 4 cross-sectional studies (22,591 adult participants) were included after screening of 341 titles and abstracts and 46 full-text articles. These studies were conducted in Europe and were published between 2014 and 2017. The studies differed in their measurements of positive mental health (WHO-5 Well-Being Index, 3 studies; WEMWBS, 1 study), sources of data (1 regional, 1 national, and 2 European-level studies), and study populations (regional study, adults over 65?years of age; national-level study, mental health nurses over 21?years of age; European-level studies, employees between 15 and 65?years of age and adults over 18?years of age). A potential association between living alone and low positive mental health was found in three out of the four studies. Our findings were limited as the number of included studies was low and the quality of evidence varied across studies.
Conclusions: This review allows a limited look at the association between living alone and positive mental health. Because the number of included studies was low and the quality of evidence varied across studies, further research is warranted.
SOURCE: Tamminen, N. Kettunen, T. Martelin, T. Reinikainen, J. & Solin P. “Living alone and positive mental health: a systematic review” Systematic Reviews, 07 June 2019.
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