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Rapid review of reviews: what remotely delivered interventions can reduce social isolation and loneliness among older adults? Executive summary

Author(s)

BOULTON Elisabeth R., et al

Publisher(s):

University College London. Institute of Education. EPPI-Centre

Publication year:

2020

Background: During the 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, millions of older adults (70+) across the UK (and elsewhere) are being advised to be particularly stringent about social distancing, and to avoid contact with those outside their household. Social distancing places them at even higher risk than normal of social isolation and loneliness, which can adversely affect quality of life, wellbeing and mental health, and are associated with physical ill health and mortality. Methodology: the researchers followed a ‘review of reviews’ methodology to synthesise evidence from related (but differing) remote interventions for social isolation and loneliness, to help inform decisions about different approaches. Findings: the review reports on the following interventions: supported video-communication interventions; telephone befriending; online discussion groups and forums; social networking sites and multi-tool interventions (PC, training, messaging, chat groups). Interventions vary greatly, making it difficult to isolate the effective elements. Concepts of loneliness and social isolation vary, making comparisons and conclusions challenging. Conclusion: the findings from this review do not lead to recommending particular modes of delivering befriending, social support, or low intensity psychological interventions (e.g. videoconferencing, telephone calls, chat rooms or forums), but they do suggest that the characteristics identified through the detailed analysis of components should be incorporated into the delivery of an intervention. (Edited publisher abstract)


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