Health and Wellbeing Outcomes Associated with Loneliness for People with Disability: A Scoping Review
Background: Loneliness is a significant public health concern due to its detrimental impact on health and wellbeing. Despite people with disability reporting higher levels of loneliness than the general population, there has been little research into how this is affecting their health and wellbeing. In light of this, the aim of our study was to scope both the existing evidence about the health and wellbeing outcomes associated with loneliness for people with disability, as well as the conceptual frameworks and measures utilised in this field of research.
Method: To conduct this scoping review, we followed the methodology outlined by JBI and searched MEDLINE, Scopus, Informit, Embase, and Web of Science for peer-reviewed, English-language articles published between 1 January 2000 and 8 February 2023. Two independent reviewers completed screening, full-text review and data extraction, with consensus sought at each stage. Data were analysed using content analysis and presented both numerically and narratively.
Results: Out of the initial 1602 publications identified in the scoping review, only nine were included after duplicate removal, title and abstract screening, and full-text review. This limited number of studies, with the earliest study one published in 2015, represents a key finding. Eight of the nine studies were quantitative, and all were conducted in high income countries. Most of these studies utilised a version of the University of Los Angeles Loneliness Scale to measure loneliness and addressed specific impairment groups. Notably, most of the studies identified associations between loneliness and health and wellbeing outcomes for people with disability.
Conclusion: This scoping review highlights the current scarcity of studies examining the effect that loneliness has on the health and wellbeing outcomes of people with disability. As most of the reviewed studies relied on loneliness measures designed for individuals without disability, they potentially overlook the unique life experiences of people with disability. Given that loneliness is an international public health concern, it is imperative that people with disability are not left behind or overlooked in efforts to address the impact of loneliness on health and wellbeing.
- Peer-Reviewed Article
- Springer Link/Springer Nature
- Community life
- Social inclusion
- Health and safety
- Health and wellness