A lonely planet

Addressing LONELIness from a PLAce-based perspective: research on the influence of Neighbourhood and EnvironmenT 

Project description

An important Flemish policy objective is to counteract loneliness by investing in so-called caring neighbourhoods. Some research indicates that both physical and social neighbourhood characteristics affect loneliness, such as public parks, access to housing and public transportation. But not much more is known about in this respect. Therefore, it is important to study the relation between the neighbourhood and loneliness. Further, much loneliness research is often limited to specific age groups and does not take into account the different dimensions of loneliness (emotional, social and existential). The latter distinction is crucial, because interventions to counteract loneliness must be tailored around the unique needs of the individual and must take into account those specific dimensions of loneliness.  


This project (2022-2026), funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), wants to gain insight in 1) which neighbourhood characteristics relate to the risk of loneliness among all adults, 2) how this relation can be explained, and 3) which neighbourhood level practices can prevent or alleviate loneliness. Through this structural, meso level approach of loneliness we can formulate specific policy advice to a wide range of Flemish and local policy actors and provide evidence-based tools to counteract loneliness from a neighbourhood perspective. 


Loneliness, caring communities, neighbourhood characteristics


Contact person

Prof. dr. Liesbeth De Donder - liesbeth.de.donder@vub.be