Title. Effects of psychosocial group rehabilitation on social functioning, loneliness and well-being of lonely, older people: randomized controlled trial.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore the effects of psychosocial group nursing intervention on older people’s feelings of loneliness, social activity and psychological well-being.
Background. Older people’s loneliness is associated with low quality of life, and impaired health, increased use of health and social services and increased mortality. Previous intervention studies have achieved quite modest results.
Method. A randomized controlled trial was conducted between 2003 and 2006 using a group intervention aimed at empowering older people, and promoting peer support and social integration. A total of 235 people (>74 years) suffering from loneliness met 12 times with professional leaders in groups. The UCLA Loneliness Scale and Lubben’s Social Network Scale were used at entry, after 3 and 6 months. Psychological well-being was charted using a six-dimensional questionnaire at baseline and 12 months later.
Findings. A statistically significantly larger proportion of intervention group participants had found new friends during the follow-up year (45% vs. 32%, P = 0·048), and 40% of intervention group participants continued their group meetings for 1 year. However, no differences were found in loneliness or social networks between the groups. Psychological well-being score improved statistically significantly in the intervention groups [+0·11, 95% confidence interval (CI): +0·04 to +0·13], compared with the controls (+0·01, 95% CI: −0·05 to +0·07, P = 0·045). Feeling needed was statistically significantly more common in the intervention groups (66%) than in controls (49%, P = 0·019).
Conclusion. New sensitive measurements of loneliness and social isolation are needed to measure fluctuations in feelings of loneliness and in social isolation.