Prevalence of Social Isolation and Psychometric Properties of Lubben Social Network Scale among Older Diabetic Patients in Abeokuta, Nigeria

Research Article

David Taiwo Ajayi, Gbolahan


Introduction: Social isolation is a global public health challenge. Social isolation may worsen the prognosis of diabetes. Assessment of social isolation among older diabetic adults is important, and the use of valid and reliable measure is necessary. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of social isolation, and to investigate the factor structure and reliability of the abbreviated version of Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6) among older diabetic patients in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted, wherein type 2 diabetic patients aged 50 and above were consecutively recruited from Federal Medical Centre, Idi Aba, and General Hospital, Ijaye. A pre-tested, intervieweradministered, structured questionnaire was used to collect data. The factor structure of the LSNS-6 was investigated using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with principal axis factoring method of estimation and varimax rotation. Estimates of the internal consistency reliability of the subscales and the overall scale were obtained from alpha coefficients. Results: A total of 160 respondents with the mean age of 63.2 ± 9.6 years and the mean duration of diabetes of 7.5 ± 6.8 years participated in the study. Sixty-six (41.3%) respondents were socially isolated (LSNS-6 score < 12). The EFA revealed 2 factors (i.e. Family and Friend) which explained 72.6% of the total variance. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for Family and Friend subscales were 0.84 and 0.90, respectively. Stratified alpha for the scale was 0.90. Conclusion: The prevalence of social isolation among the older diabetic patients was high. Also, the LSNS-6 was found to be a reliable and valid instrument for assessing social isolation in this study population. Assessment and management of social isolation should be incorporated into diabetes treatment plan for older diabetic patients.

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