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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Researchers Examine Interventions for Loneliness in Long-term Care Facilities

Researchers from the University of South Carolina Department of Biological Sciences and the Arnold School of Public Health, including the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Office for the Study of Aging and the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, have completed a review of interventions for loneliness among older adults living in long-term care facilities. The study was led by University of South Carolina epidemiology and biostatistics assistant professor Dr. Matthew Lohman and published in Aging & Mental Health.

With this study, the researchers categorized loneliness interventions at long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing home, assisted-living, hospice) over the past 10 years by type and compared the effectiveness of the interventions in these settings. After examining 15 intervention studies, the authors found that most of the interventions were psychological therapies and leisure-skill development interventions. Approximately 87 percent of the studies reported a significant decrease in loneliness, with laughter therapy, horticultural therapy and reminiscence therapy associated with the greatest decreases in loneliness.

“These results suggest that, although less common than interventions in the community, there are several effective interventions to reduce loneliness among older adults living in long-term care facilities,” says Dr. Lohman. “Lack of standardized measures and high-quality studies limits comparisons between intervention types and generalizability to different populations.”

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