4-year scientific research in which we investigate the relationship between the neighborhood and loneliness
With this research we want to gain more insight into the impact of the neighborhood on feelings of loneliness. Where loneliness has already been extensively investigated in relation to individual characteristics such as gender, personality and life course, very little is known to date about the impact of neighborhood characteristics on loneliness. By studying loneliness among adults of all ages, we also explicitly challenge the stereotypical image of loneliness as a problem of a specific age group. By taking into account the multidimensional nature of loneliness (social, emotional and existential), we also acknowledge the complexity of loneliness, which requires a tailor-made approach with attention to both individual and neighborhood characteristics. Our general scientific objective is to study the relationship between the neighborhood and (social, emotional and existential) loneliness among adults (18+) in Flanders.
Loneliness is increasingly recognized as an important social challenge, and has therefore been placed high on the Flemish policy agenda in recent years. This is not only important because of the high prevalence figures, but also because loneliness is strongly linked to a number of health problems (e.g. depression), higher care expenditures, and because it has a negative impact on the quality of life. Moreover, the restrictive measures in the context of the COVID-19 crisis have led to a significant increase in loneliness: 59% of adults in Flanders reported feeling lonely sometimes or often in February 2021, and 36% reported severe feelings of loneliness. An important Flemish policy objective is to combat loneliness by investing in caring neighborhoods. Although some research indicates that physical and social neighborhood characteristics (e.g. public parks, access to housing, public transport) influence loneliness, little is known about this. Therefore, it is important to investigate the relationship between the neighborhood and loneliness. Furthermore, much loneliness research is limited to specific age groups and does not take into account the different dimensions of loneliness (emotional, social and existential). The latter is crucial because loneliness interventions must be adapted to the unique needs of the individual and the specific dimensions of loneliness.
With the support of: SBO en FWO