A systematic review of interventions for loneliness among older adults living in long-term care facilities

Aging Ment Health. 2020 Dec;24(12):1945-1955. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2019.1673311. Epub 2019 Oct 11.


Objectives: This study aimed to review loneliness interventions for older adults living in long-term care (LTC) facilities over the past 10 years, to categorize interventions by type, and to compare effectiveness of loneliness interventions in these settings.

Methods: Systematic review followed PRISMA guidelines. Articles matching search criteria were collected from PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science from 2009 to 2019. The inclusion criteria were as follows: 1) English language, 2) intervention studies with a quantitative measure that compares pre-trial to post-trial changes, 3) loneliness as a primary or secondary outcome 4) subjects age >65, and 5) subjects living in a LTC facility, such as a nursing home, assisted-living, or hospice.

Results: A total of 15 intervention studies qualified for systematic review. Most of these interventions were psychological therapies and leisure/skill development interventions. Approximately, 87% of studies reported significant decreases in loneliness following intervention. Laughter therapy, horticultural therapy, and reminiscence therapy were associated with the greatest decreases in loneliness.

Discussion: Results suggest that, although less common than interventions in the community, there are several effective interventions to reduce loneliness among older adults living in LTC facilities. Lack of standardized measures and high-quality studies limits comparisons between intervention types and generalizability to different populations.

Keywords: Loneliness; long-term care facilities; older adults; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Nursing Homes
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities