Description of the LSNS

The Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS) is a brief instrument designed to gauge social isolation in older adults by measuring perceived social support received by family and friends which typically takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. It consists of an equally weighted sum of 10 items used to measure size, closeness and frequency of contacts of a respondent’s social network. It was originally developed in 1988 and was revised in 2002 (LSNS-R) along with an abbreviated version (LSNS-6) and an expanded version (LSNS-18). These versions have been developed in order to meet clinician’s needs for brevity (LSNS-6) and the expanded version (LSNS-18) for basic social and health science research oriented purposes.

All the LSNS scales measure the level of perceived support received from family, friends and neighbors. The LSNS was modified to the LSNS-R in order to better specify and distinguish the nature of family, friendship and neighborhood social networks. Both the LSNS and the LSNS-R distinguish between kin and non-kin, however, they do not differentiate between friends and neighbors.

The LSNS has been used in both practice and research settings and has been used primarily with older adults from a range of settings including the community, hospitals, adult day care centers, assisted living facilities and doctors’ offices. The scale has also been used with specific elderly populations such as elderly diagnosed with breast cancer, myocardial infarctions and depressed elderly; other specific populations include homosexual and childless elderly. Caregivers have also been looked at as they often become an increasingly important part of the older person’s daily life.