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Combatting social isolation and increasing social participation of older adults through the use of technology: a systematic review of existing evidence

Author(s)

BAKER Steven, et al

Publisher(s):

John Wiley and Sons

Objectives: There are growing concerns that social isolation presents risks to older people's health and well‐being. Thus, the objective of the review was to explore how technology is currently being utilised to combat social isolation and increase social participation, hence improving social outcomes for older people. Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted across the social science and human‐computer interaction databases. Results: A total of 36 papers met the inclusion criteria and were analysed using a four‐step process. Findings were threefold, suggesting that: (i) technologies principally utilised social network services and touch‐screen technologies; (ii) social outcomes are often ill‐defined or not defined at all; and (iii) methodologies used to evaluate interventions were often limited and small‐scale. Conclusion: Results suggest a need for studies that examine new and innovative forms of technology, evaluated with rigorous methodologies, and drawing on clear definitions about how these technologies address social isolation/participation. Policy Impact: This systematic review explores how technology is currently being utilised to combat social isolation and increase social participation for older people. A unique aspect of this review is that it incorporates smaller design studies and prototypes. These insights will benefit those considering the potential for information and communication technologies to contribute to older adults’ health and well‐being. Practice Impact: This systematic review explores how technology is currently being utilised to combat social isolation and increase social participation for older people. Insights from the review will benefit practitioners seeking to understand the broad range of technologies that are being applied to these issues, and the common benefits and challenges associated with each approach. (Edited publisher abstract)


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