Social networks and links to isolation and loneliness among elderly HCBS clients

A MiCDA Researcher publication abstract

Medvene, Louis J., Kari M. Nilsen, Rachel Smith, Samuel Ofei-Dodoo, Anthony DiLollo, Noah J. Webster, Annette Graham, and Anita Nance. 2016. "Social networks and links to isolation and loneliness among elderly HCBS clients." Aging & Mental Health, 20(5): 485-493.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the network types of HCBS clients based on the structural characteristics of their social networks. We also examined how the network types were associated with social isolation, relationship quality and loneliness.Method: Forty personal interviews were carried out with HCBS clients to assess the structure of their social networks as indicated by frequency of contact with children, friends, family and participation in religious and community organizations. Hierarchical cluster analysis was conducted to identify network types.Results: Four network types were found including: family (n = 16), diverse (n = 8), restricted (n = 8) and religious (n = 7). Family members comprised almost half of participants? social networks, and friends comprised less than one-third. Clients embedded in family, diverse and religious networks had significantly more positive relationships than clients embedded in restricted networks. Clients embedded in restricted networks had significantly higher social isolation scores and were lonelier than clients in diverse and family networks.Discussion: The findings suggest that HCBS clients? isolation and loneliness are linked to the types of social networks in which they are embedded. The findings also suggest that clients embedded in restricted networks are at high risk for negative outcomes.


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