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Barriers to social participation among lonely older adults: the influence of social fears and identity

Goll, JC; Charlesworth, G; Scior, K; Stott, J; (2015) Barriers to social participation among lonely older adults: the influence of social fears and identity. PLoS One , 10 (2) , Article e0116664. 10.1371/journal.pone.0116664. Green open access

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Loneliness among older adults is a major public health problem that may be associated with processes of social participation and identity. This study therefore sought to examine the relationship between social participation and identity in a sample of lonely older adults living independently in London, England. METHOD: An inductive qualitative approach, based on semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis, was employed. RESULTS: Participants commonly spoke of barriers to social participation that have been reported elsewhere, including illness/disability, loss of contact with friends/relatives, lack of a supportive community, and lack of acceptable social opportunities. However, novel findings were also derived. In particular, participants commonly minimised the difficulties they faced alone, and described attempts to avoid social opportunities. These behaviours were linked to fears about engaging in social participation opportunities, including fears of social rejection and/or exploitation, and fears of losing valued aspects of identity. DISCUSSION: It is concluded that social participation amongst lonely older people will not improve through the removal of previously reported barriers alone; instead, older peoples’ beliefs, fears and identities must be addressed. Suggestions for implementing these findings within community organisations are provided.

Type: Article
Title: Barriers to social participation among lonely older adults: the influence of social fears and identity
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116664
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0116664
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2015 Goll et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1454757
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