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Loneliness, loss, and social support among cognitively intact older people with cancer, living in nursing homes – a mixed-methods study

Authors Drageset J, Eide GE, Dysvik E, Furnes B, Hauge S

Received 11 May 2015

Accepted for publication 22 July 2015

Published 25 September 2015 Volume 2015:10 Pages 1529—1536


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Supriya Swarnkar

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Jorunn Drageset,1,2 Geir Egil Eide,2,3 Elin Dysvik,4 Bodil Furnes,4 Solveig Hauge5

1Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bergen University College, Bergen, Norway; 2Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway; 3Centre for Clinical Research, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway; 4Department of Health Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway; 5Faculty of Health and Social Studies and Centre for Caring Research – Southern Norway, Telemark University College, Porsgrunn, Norway

Background: Loneliness is a significant psychosocial effect following a cancer diagnosis and may prevent people from engaging in social activities, thus creating difficulties in interpersonal relationships. This study investigated loneliness and social support among cognitively intact nursing home residents with cancer by using a quantitatively driven mixed-methods design with sequential supplementary qualitative components.
Methods: The quantitative component consisted of face-to-face interviews of 60 nursing home residents (≥65 years) using the one-item Loneliness Scale and the Social Provisions Scale. The supplementary psychosocial component consisted of qualitative research interviews about experiences related to loneliness with nine respondents.
Results: The quantitative results indicated that reassurance of worth was associated with loneliness. The experience of loneliness was identified by the following: loneliness that was dominated by a feeling of inner pain, feeling of loss, and feeling small. Loneliness was alleviated by the following: being engaged in activities, being in contact with other people, and occupying oneself.
Conclusion: Enhancing the lives of nursing home residents with cancer requires attending to the residents’ experience of loneliness and social relationships in a targeted and individualized manner. This might require screening all nursing home residents for early detection of loneliness. Revealing factors that may contribute to or reduce loneliness improves the ability to enhance people’s lives.

Keywords: loneliness, social support, nursing homes, older adults, mixed-methods

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