Social Dysfunction in Older Age and Relationships with Cognition, Depression, and Apathy: The GreatAGE Study

Madia Lozupone, Francesco Panza, Marco Piccininni, Massimiliano Copetti, Rodolfo Sardone, Bruno P Imbimbo, Eleonora Stella, Francesca D'Urso, Maria Rosaria Barulli, Petronilla Battista, Alessandra Grasso, Rosanna Tortelli, Rosa Capozzo, Francesco Coppola, Daniela Isabel Abbrescia, Antonello Bellomo, Gianluigi Giannelli, Nicola Quaranta, Davide Seripa, Giancarlo Logroscino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Most studies focused on only one measure of social dysfunction in older age, without proper validation and distinction across different dimensions including subjectivity, structural, and functional aspects.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to validate the Social Dysfunction Rating Scale (SDRS) and its factorial structure, also determining the association of SDRS with cognitive functions, global psychopathology, and social deprivation.

METHODS: The SDRS was administered to 484 Italian community-dwelling elderly, recruited in the GreatAGE study, a population-based study on aging conducted in Castellana Grotte, Bari, Southern Italy. We determined objective and subjective psychometric properties of SDRS against the gold standard evaluation of social dysfunction according to the Semi-structured Clinical Diagnostic Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) criterion.

RESULTS: The SDRS showed a moderate accuracy with an optimal cut-off of 26 maximized with higher sensitivity (0.74,95% CI:0.63-0.84) than specificity (0.57,95% CI:0.50-0.64). A five-factor structure was carried out and five dimensions of SDRS were identified (loneliness; social isolation; feeling of contribution/uselessness; lack of leisure activities; anxiety for the health). Education and global cognitive functions were inversely correlated to SDRS, while a direct association with global psychopathology, depression, and apathy was found. The prevalence of higher SDRS scores was major in subjects with current psychiatric disorders versus other subjects.∥Conclusion: The SDRS could be a valid instrument to capture both size and quality of social dysfunction, both in subjects with psychiatric disorders and in normal subjects. Several categories of social dysfunction differed only in the degree of health deprivation, not in social or material deprivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1000
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Apathy
  • Cognition
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression/epidemiology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders/epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Social Isolation/psychology


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