Loneliness in people with intellectual and developmental disorders across the lifespan: A systematic review of prevalence and interventions

J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2018 Sep;31(5):643-658. doi: 10.1111/jar.12432. Epub 2018 Feb 14.


Background: The aim of the study was to conduct the first systematic review investigating the prevalence of loneliness in people with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) and the interventions targeting loneliness.

Method: A search across five databases was conducted (May 2016-June 2016). One reviewer (A. P.) selected the articles for inclusion and assessed their risk of bias using a standardized tool. The second reviewer (A. H.) examined the list of included/excluded articles and the ratings of the studies.

Results: Five prevalence studies met the inclusion criteria and provided an average loneliness prevalence of 44.74%. Only one intervention study was included, and it demonstrated that there was not any significant group difference for loneliness outcomes (p = .21). The majority of the studies had a weak quality rating.

Conclusion: The systematic review evidenced that loneliness is a common experience in people with IDD and there is a need to extend current research.

Keywords: intellectual developmental disabilities; interventions; loneliness; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Loneliness / psychology*