Loneliness in young adults with a visual impairment: Links with perceived social support in a twenty-year longitudinal study

Eline C.M. Heppe*, Sabina Kef, Marleen H.M. de Moor, Carlo Schuengel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Young people with disabilities are more at risk of experiencing loneliness in later life than their typically developing peers. Aim: To identify those who become lonely in later life, trajectories of perceived parent and peer support from adolescence to adulthood of young people with a visual impairment were studied. Methods: A total of 316 adolescents (M = 18 years; SD = 6.5) enrolled in a cohort study in 1996; 205 of them participated in 2005, 178 in 2010, and 161 in 2016. Latent growth curve models were fitted to the data. Results: Perceived parent support followed a linear decreasing course. No association was found between perceived parent support and loneliness in later life. For perceived peer support a quadratic growth pattern was found, with an increase in peer support up to age 27, and thereafter a decrease. Both the initial level and the rate of change in perceived peer support significantly predicted loneliness in adulthood. Conclusions: The course of peer support is a better indicator for the risk of loneliness in later life than support from parents. Normative life transitions may affect the already vulnerable social support for young people with a visual impairment. This study highlights the importance of establishing and maintaining peer relationships throughout life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103634
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume101
Early online date18 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Loneliness
  • Longitudinal study
  • Perceived parent support
  • Perceived peer support
  • Transition to adulthood
  • Visual impairment

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