Rural Scots less likely to experience loneliness than urban people, study says

The study was led by researchers from the University of Glasgow.

Rural Scots less likely to experience loneliness than urban people, study says Getty Images

People in rural Scottish communities experience less loneliness, according to a new study.

Research led by the University of Glasgow (UOG) suggests people living in urban areas are more likely to experience loneliness and poorer wellbeing, when compared with more sparsely populated areas of the country.

In a study, named: Loneliness, Social Support, And Social Networks: Urban-rural Variation And Links To Wellbeing In Scotland has been published in the Journal Of Public Health.

It looks at differences in social support, social networks and loneliness between urban and rurally-based people.

Research says social support was broadly the same on both ends of the spectrum, but said urban residents had higher rates of loneliness and poorer wellbeing overall, and that social support and emotional closeness with others were related to better wellbeing.

Researchers stressed in the study that this “reaffirms the importance of close social contact for an individual’s overall wellbeing”.

The study found the reason rurally-based individuals experience less loneliness is because they had more contact with people of different ages.

Social isolation can lead to poor mental and physical health, and can even lead to an earlier death.

One in five adults experience loneliness and more than three million in England have reported similar feelings in a recent survey, with the World Health Organisation announcing in 2021 that social isolation should be a public health priority.

The study was funded by the UOG’s Medical Research Council and the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office (MRC/CSO).

Emily Long, study lead and research fellow at the (MRC/CSO)’s Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, said: “We believe this could be due to the smaller population of rural areas, limiting the social pool and encouraging rural adults to seek social relationships with people in different life stages than themselves.

“Our study shows that multiple dimensions of relationships are important to wellbeing, and that efforts to strengthen these relationships are particularly needed in urban areas.

“There’s something about these environments that makes people more vulnerable to loneliness.

“Our research suggests that programmes and initiatives should focus on improving the exchange of support and building closeness in existing relationships, rather than relying on activities that are only aimed at building more social connections.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in