Loneliness and physical function impairment: Perceived health status as an effect modifier in community-dwelling older adults in Ghana

Razak M. GYASI*, Prince PEPRAH, Kabila ABASS, Lawrencia Pokua SIAW, Yvonne DODZI AMI ADJAKLOE, Emmanuel KOFI GARSONU, David R. PHILLIPS

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Although loneliness and physical function impairment (PFI) are common geriatric syndromes and public health issues, little is known about how their association varies by self-perception of health. We examine how loneliness is associated with PFI, and whether the association is modified by perceived health status.

We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 1201 adults aged ≥50 years from the Aging, Health, Psychological Well-being and Health Seeking Behavior Study (AgeHeaPsyWel–HeaSeeB) in Ghana. We assessed loneliness using the 3-item short-form of UCLA Loneliness Scale, and PFI with a 7-item scale on mobility-related deficiencies. Adjusted logistic regressions and moderation analysis evaluated the hypothesized associations.

The prevalence of moderate, severe loneliness, and PFI were 37.5%, 17.7%, and 36.1%, respectively. Regressions showed that loneliness was associated with a 23% increased risk of PFI after adjusting for several potential confounders (OR = 1.23; 95%CI = 1.03–2.81). PFI sub-types revealed similar risks. The association was modified by perceived health status such that a positive health perception attenuated the effect of loneliness on PFI (OR = 0.46, 95%CI = 0.23–0.90).

Individuals who were lonely had significantly higher odds for PFI but the effect was tempered by perceived health status. Social policy and public health practices for healthy aging should address loneliness and negative health perception among older people.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101721
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Early online date29 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Lingnan University, Hong Kong [grant numbers: RPG 1129310] to Razak M. Gyasi ( https://www.ln.edu.hk/about-lu/introducinglingnan ). The funders had no role in study design, data collection, and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • emotional dysregulation
  • functional impairment
  • loneliness
  • healthy aging
  • social relationship
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • Functional impairment
  • Social relationship
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Loneliness
  • Healthy aging
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


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