All the lonely people, where do they all belong? An interpretive synthesis of loneliness and social support in older lesbian, gay and bisexual communities.
Purpose: Loneliness is a phenomenon which affects people globally and constitutes a key social issue of our time. Yet few studies have considered the nature of loneliness and social support for older lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people; this is of particular concern as they are among the social groups said to be at greater risk. Design/methodology/approach: Peer-reviewed literature was identified through a search of Scopus, PsycINFO and PubMed. A total of 2,277 papers were retrieved including qualitative and quantitative studies which were quality assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Findings: Eleven papers were included in the review and findings were synthesised using thematic analysis. The studies were conducted in five countries worldwide with a combined sample size of 53,332 participants, of whom 4,288 were drawn from among LGB communities. The characteristics and circumstances associated with loneliness included including living arrangements, housing tenure, minority stress and geographical proximity. Research limitations/implications: The review suggests that among older LGB people, living alone, not being partnered and being childfree may increase the risk of loneliness. This cohort of older people may experience greater difficulties in building relationships of trust and openness. They may also have relied on sources of identity-based social support that are in steep decline. Future research should include implementation studies to evaluate effective strategies in reducing loneliness among older LGB people. Practical implications: Reaching older LGB people who are vulnerable due to physical mobility or rural isolation and loneliness because of bereavement or being a carer are concerns. A range of interventions including individual (befriending), group-based (for social contact) in addition to potential benefits from the Internet of Things should be evaluated. Discussions with the Voluntary and Community Sector suggest that take up of existing provision is 85:15 GB men vs LB women. Originality/value: We sought to interrogate the tension between findings of lower levels of social support and discourses of resilient care offered by families of choice.
The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
Citation : Fish, J. and Weis, C. (2019) All the lonely people, where do they all belong? An interpretive synthesis of loneliness and social support in older lesbian, gay and bisexual communities. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, 20 (3), pp. 130-142
Research Institute : Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care
Peer Reviewed : Yes