Loneliness and wellbeing amongst New Zealand Veterans
Khan, Anar; Malcolm, Grace; Andrews-Smith, Louis; Hamer, Nathan; Cane, Reuben; Tisch, Jack; Curran, Stuart; Dockerty, John; Cameron, Claire; Barak, Yoram; McBride, David
Objective: To identify the proportion of New Zealand (NZ) veterans who suffer from loneliness, and whether this is correlated with general wellbeing. In addition, we wished to find out whether NZ veterans are aware of supports for loneliness and feel comfortable accessing these supports. Methods: Current and previous New Zealand veterans aged at least 18 years of age who are members of Royal NZ Returned and Services Association (NZRSA) and/or follow NZ military Facebook sites were provided with a study information sheet and a URL for an online survey. The survey included questions on demographics, loneliness (in the form of a one-item loneliness question and the UCLA-3 three-item loneliness scale), wellbeing (in the form of the General Health Questionnaire-12) and a question indicating which existing support agencies they were aware of. Results: The proportion of loneliness in the sample was 33.0% (95% CI 23.8%-43.6%). A correlation was found between loneliness and psychological distress, indicating that as loneliness increased psychological distress appeared to also increase (Pearson correlation 0.63). 14.8% of all respondents were not aware of any of the supports listed. A higher percentage, 21.4%, of those respondents who were lonely were not aware of any of the supports. 43.2% of all respondents would not feel comfortable accessing supports and this was also greater for those who self-reported as lonely (55.2%). Conclusions: The findings in this study showed that loneliness is likely a widespread problem amongst NZ veterans. This is an area which warrants further research, which might aid in identifying potential supports to minimise the impact of loneliness amongst the NZ veterans.
Keywords: Veteran health; Loneliness; Wellbeing
Research Type: Project Report