Measuring social isolation in older adults: A rapid review informing evidence-based research and practice
Gardam, O., Ferguson, R. J., Ouimet, A. J., and Cobigo, V.
OBJECTIVES: Older adults account for 18.5% of the Canadian population and are at risk of experiencing social isolation, compared to other age groups. Researchers define social isolation as a lack of social contact and relationships, but many social isolation measures do not reflect this definition. The aim of our study is to review the existing measures of social isolation with older adults to recommend evidence-based measures to researchers and practitioners.
METHODS: We conducted a rapid review on PsycInfo and PsycTests. We included articles that were written in English or French, were peer-reviewed, used an older adult sample, included a self-report social isolation measure, and reported psychometric information.
RESULTS: Following exclusion of ineligible articles, 12 measures were available for analysis. We further categorized the measures into: five most recommended measures, five measures that require further research, and two measures not recommended for use with older adults.
CONCLUSIONS: We observed a range of measures with varying suitability to be used with older adults; some were empirically driven but did not have strong psychometric properties, or vice-versa.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: It is imperative that interventions aimed to address social isolation in older adults use evidence-based measures to assess progress and report treatment effectiveness.