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A life less lonely: the state of the art in interventions to reduce loneliness in people with mental health problems

Mann, F; Bone, JK; Lloyd-Evans, B; Frerichs, J; Pinfold, V; Ma, R; Wang, J; (2017) A life less lonely: the state of the art in interventions to reduce loneliness in people with mental health problems. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology , 52 (6) pp. 627-638. 10.1007/s00127-017-1392-y. Green open access

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Abstract

PURPOSE: There is growing evidence of significant harmful effects of loneliness. Relatively little work has focused on how best to reduce loneliness in people with mental health problems. We aim to present an overview of the current state of the art in loneliness interventions in people with mental health problems, identify relevant challenges, and highlight priorities for future research and implementation. METHODS: A scoping review of the published and grey literature was conducted, as well as discussions with relevant experts, to propose a broad classification system for types of interventions targeting loneliness. RESULTS: We categorised interventions as ‘direct’, targeting loneliness and related concepts in social relationships, and ‘indirect’ broader approaches to well-being that may impact on loneliness. We describe four broad groups of direct interventions: changing cognitions; social skills training and psychoeducation; supported socialisation or having a ‘socially-focused supporter’; and ‘wider community approaches’. The most promising emerging evidence appears to be in ‘changing cognitions’, but, as yet, no approaches have a robust evidence base. Challenges include who is best placed to offer the intervention, how to test such complex interventions, and the stigma surrounding loneliness. CONCLUSIONS: Development of clearly defined loneliness interventions, high-quality trials of effectiveness, and identifying which approaches work best for whom is required. Promising future approaches may include wider community initiatives and social prescribing. It is important to place loneliness and social relationships high on the wider public mental health and research agenda.

Type: Article
Title: A life less lonely: the state of the art in interventions to reduce loneliness in people with mental health problems
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00127-017-1392-y
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-017-1392-y
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Psychiatry, Loneliness, Intervention, Social isolation, Social networks, Social prescribing, RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL, NARRATIVE EXPOSURE THERAPY, PERCEIVED SOCIAL SUPPORT, OLDER-ADULTS, PEER SUPPORT, BEHAVIORAL ACTIVATION, RISK-FACTORS, ILLNESS, PROGRAM, METAANALYSIS
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 > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1558628
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