There is a need for valid and reliable short scales that can be used to assess social
networks and social supports and to screen for social isolation in older persons.
The present study is a cross-national and cross-cultural evaluation of the performance
of an abbreviated version of the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6), which was used
to screen for social isolation among community-dwelling older adult populations in
three European countries. Based on the concept of lack of redundancy of social ties
we defined clinical cut-points of the LSNS-6 for identifying persons deemed at risk
for social isolation.
Among all three samples, the LSNS-6 and two subscales (Family and Friends) demonstrated
high levels of internal consistency, stable factor structures, and high correlations
with criterion variables. The proposed clinical cut-points showed good convergent
validity, and classified 20% of the respondents in Hamburg, 11% of those in Solothurn
(Switzerland), and 15% of those in London as at risk for social isolation.
We conclude that abbreviated scales such as the LSNS-6 should be considered for inclusion
in practice protocols of gerontological practitioners. Screening older persons based
on the LSNS-6 provides quantitative information on their family and friendship ties,
and identifies persons at increased risk for social isolation who might benefit from
in-depth assessment and targeted interventions.