Trajectories of Early Adolescent Loneliness: Implications for Physical Health and Sleep

Eccles, Alice orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1618-4436, Qualter, Pamela, Panayiotou, Margartia, Hurley, Ruth, Bovin, Michel and Tremblay, Richard E (2020) Trajectories of Early Adolescent Loneliness: Implications for Physical Health and Sleep. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 29 . pp. 3398-3407. ISSN 1062-1024

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The current study examines the relationship between prolonged loneliness, physical health, and sleep among young adolescents (10–13 years; N = 1214; 53% girls). Loneliness was measured at 10, 12 and 13 years of age along with parent-reported health and sleep outcomes. Using growth mixture modelling, 6 distinct trajectories were identified: ‘low increasing to high loneliness’ (n = 23, 2%), ‘high reducing loneliness’ (n = 28, 3%), ‘medium stable loneliness’ (n = 60, 5%), ‘medium reducing loneliness’ (n = 185, 15%), ‘low increasing to medium loneliness’ (n = 165, 14%), and ‘low stable loneliness’ (n = 743, 61%). Further analyses found non-significant differences between the loneliness trajectories and parent-report health and sleep outcomes including visits to health professionals, perceived general health, and sleep quality. The current study offers an important contribution to the literature on loneliness and health. Results show that the relationship may not be evident in early adolescence when parent reports of children’s health are used. The current study highlights the importance of informant choice when reporting health. The implications of the findings for future empirical work are discussed.

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