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Community-based responses to loneliness in older people: a systematic review of qualitative studies


NOONE Catrin, YANG Keming



In many countries across the world, older people are one of the groups most vulnerable to loneliness. Community-based responses are well placed to support and enhance pre-existing coping strategies in older people. However, the evidence base of these responses remain scattered and obscured, particularly in relation to their design and reasons behind their success. This systematic review, focuses on qualitative studies on community-based responses to loneliness among older people to learn how these responses work in practice with in-depth details. At the end of a systematic searching and screening process, 17 studies conducted in five countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Spain and the UK) published in English were selected and reviewed initially in October 2020 and then updated at the end of August 2021. Three themes were identified as being most valuable to addressing loneliness in a specific community, namely, autonomy, new social connections, and belonging. These interventions were also employed according to three primary considerations: what the community lacked, how that community experienced loneliness, or a combination of both. Several implications for policymakers and future research emerged, urging future interventions to take a more contextual approach that encompasses community-level considerations before establishing a user-led and tailored setting that facilitates social engagement. (Edited publisher abstract)

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