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dc.contributor.authorWilliams, Christopher Y. K.
dc.contributor.authorTownson, Adam T.
dc.contributor.authorKapur, Milan
dc.contributor.authorFerreira, Alice F.
dc.contributor.authorNunn, Rebecca
dc.contributor.authorGalante, Julieta
dc.contributor.authorPhillips, Veronica
dc.contributor.authorGentry, Sarah
dc.contributor.authorUsher-Smith, Juliet A.
dc.description.abstractBackground: A significant proportion of the worldwide population is at risk of social isolation and loneliness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to identify effective interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness that are compatible with COVID-19 shielding and social distancing measures. Methods and findings: In this rapid systematic review, we searched six electronic databases (Medline, Embase, Web of Science, PsycINFO, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and SCOPUS) from inception to April 2020 for systematic reviews appraising interventions for loneliness and/or social isolation. Primary studies from those reviews were eligible if they included: 1) participants in a non-hospital setting; 2) interventions to reduce social isolation and/or loneliness that would be feasible during COVID-19 shielding measures; 3) a relevant control group; and 4) quantitative measures of social isolation, social support or loneliness. At least two authors independently screened studies, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias using the Downs and Black checklist. Study registration: PROSPERO CRD42020178654. We identified 45 RCTs and 13 non-randomised controlled trials; none were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nature, type, and potential effectiveness of interventions varied greatly. Effective interventions for loneliness include psychological therapies such as mindfulness, lessons on friendship, robotic pets, and social facilitation software. Few interventions improved social isolation. Overall, 37 of 58 studies were of “Fair” quality, as measured by the Downs & Black checklist. The main study limitations identified were the inclusion of studies of variable quality; the applicability of our findings to the entire population; and the current poor understanding of the types of loneliness and isolation experienced by different groups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusions: Many effective interventions involved cognitive or educational components, or facilitated communication between peers. These interventions may require minor modifications to align with COVID-19 shielding/social distancing measures. Future high-quality randomised controlled trials conducted under shielding/social distancing constraints are urgently needed.
dc.publisherPublic Library of Science
dc.rightsAttribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)en
dc.subjectResearch Article
dc.subjectComputer and information sciences
dc.subjectEngineering and technology
dc.subjectMedicine and health sciences
dc.subjectResearch and analysis methods
dc.subjectBiology and life sciences
dc.subjectSocial sciences
dc.titleInterventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness during COVID-19 physical distancing measures: A rapid systematic review
prism.publicationNamePLOS ONE
datacite.contributor.supervisoreditor: Gray, Cindy
dc.contributor.orcidWilliams, Christopher Y. K. [0000-0001-8867-1623]
dc.contributor.orcidTownson, Adam T. [0000-0001-8800-7896]
dc.contributor.orcidFerreira, Alice F. [0000-0002-1596-043X]
dc.contributor.orcidUsher-Smith, Juliet A. [0000-0002-8501-2531]
pubs.funder-project-idNational Institute for Health Research (RNAG/564)

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Except where otherwise noted, this item's licence is described as Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)