Loneliness in autism and its association with anxiety and depression: A systematic review with meta-analyses

Becky Hymas, Jo Badcock, Elizabeth Milne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Objectives: This systematic review aimed to quantify differences in loneliness levels between autistic and neurotypical samples and investigate the association between loneliness and mental health in autistic individuals. Methods: Three meta-analyses were conducted. Studies were methodologically appraised using established tools. Results: Overall, 39 studies were included. The majority of these achieved moderate methodological quality ratings. The primary meta-analysis (N = 23) found autistic samples reported higher loneliness compared with neurotypical samples (Hedges’ g =.89). The meta-analyses on the associations between loneliness and anxiety (N = 14) and depression (N = 11) in autistic samples found significant pooled correlations (r =.29 and r =.48, respectively). Conclusions: This review highlights numerous limitations within current autism and loneliness research. Nevertheless, loneliness in autism merits targeted clinical and research attention. © 2022, The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-156
Number of pages36
JournalReview Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume11
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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