FSD3360 Helsingin Sanomat Loneliness Survey 2014

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  • Saari, Juho (Tampere University. Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Helsingin Sanomat
  • Kauhanen, Jussi (University of Eastern Finland)
  • Karhunen, Leila (University of Eastern Finland)
  • Lagus, Krista (Aalto University)
  • Kainulainen, Sakari (Diaconia University of Applied Sciences)
  • Pantzar, Mika (University of Helsinki. Centre for Consumer Society Research)
  • Erola, Jani (University of Turku)
  • Junttila, Niina (University of Turku)
  • Müller, Kiti (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health)
  • Huhta, Jaana (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health)


friends, interpersonal relations, loneliness, mental health, quality of life, social disadvantage, social exclusion, social support, well-being (health)

Sisällön kuvaus

This survey charted Finnish experiences of loneliness. The survey was conducted by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in 2014 (N: 27,851). Themes of the survey included, among others, the circumstances and consequences of loneliness, satisfaction with life and well-being. The survey included an open-ended question q9 "What does loneliness feel like?", which can be utilised in qualitative analysis. Open-ended responses are only available in Finnish.

First, the circumstances and consequences of loneliness in the respondents' lives were examined. The number of the respondents' close friends, i.e. friends with whom they could share the good and bad in life in confidence, was surveyed. The respondents were asked in which situations they had experienced loneliness in the past two years (e.g. with their spouse, children or friends, during holidays, at work) as well as in which stages of life they had experienced loneliness (e.g. as a child or an adult). They were also asked whether they had experienced loneliness during a specific season of the year in the past two years. The consequences of loneliness were charted with questions relating to whether the respondents had experienced, for example, frequent illnesses, unemployment, gambling, comfort eating or depression because of loneliness.

Next, factors that had significantly helped the respondents alleviate loneliness in the past two years were surveyed (e.g. alcohol or drug use, the Internet, eating, immersing themselves in work, taking care of pets or other animals, exercise, time spent with family or friends). Feelings of loneliness, depression, failure, happiness and being loved or in love in the past 12 months were charted. Additionally, the respondents were asked how well various statements described them. The statements included, for instance, that the respondents felt unhappy because they were doing things alone, felt that no one really understood them, felt that it was hard for them to make friends, thought that they lived a goal-oriented and meaningful life, thought that they were a good person and lived a good life, and thought that others respected them. The respondents' satisfaction with specific domains of life, such as standard of living, personal health and personal safety, was also examined. Finally, the respondents' well-being was surveyed with questions on, for example, smoking, alcohol use, exercise habits and weight loss.

Background variables included, among others, the respondent's gender, marital status, age, weight, height, sufficiency of income, highest level of education, subjective social class, NUTS3 region of residence and municipality of residence for municipalities with over 34,000 inhabitants.

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