A mixed methods case study exploring the impact of membership of a multi-activity, multicentre community group on social wellbeing of older adults
- Authors: Lindsay-Smith, Gabrielle , O'Sullivan, Grant , Eime, Rochelle , Harvey, Jack , van Uffelen, Jannique
- Date: 2018
- Type: Text , Journal article
- Relation: BMC Geriatrics Vol. 18, no. 1 (2018), p. 1-14
- Full Text:
- Description: Background: Social wellbeing factors such as loneliness and social support have a major impact on the health of older adults and can contribute to physical and mental wellbeing. However, with increasing age, social contacts and social support typically decrease and levels of loneliness increase. Group social engagement appears to have additional benefits for the health of older adults compared to socialising individually with friends and family, but further research is required to confirm whether group activities can be beneficial for the social wellbeing of older adults. Methods: This one-year longitudinal mixed methods study investigated the effect of joining a community group, offering a range of social and physical activities, on social wellbeing of adults with a mean age of 70. The study combined a quantitative survey assessing loneliness and social support (n = 28; three time-points, analysed using linear mixed models) and a qualitative focus group study (n = 11, analysed using thematic analysis) of members from Life Activities Clubs Victoria, Australia. Results: There was a significant reduction in loneliness (p = 0.023) and a trend toward an increase in social support (p = 0.056) in the first year after joining. The focus group confirmed these observations and suggested that social support may take longer than 1 year to develop. Focus groups also identified that group membership provided important opportunities for developing new and diverse social connections through shared interest and experience. These connections were key in improving the social wellbeing of members, especially in their sense of feeling supported or connected and less lonely. Participants agreed that increasing connections was especially beneficial following significant life events such as retirement, moving to a new house or partners becoming unwell. Conclusions: Becoming a member of a community group offering social and physical activities may improve social wellbeing in older adults, especially following significant life events such as retirement or moving-house, where social network changes. These results indicate that ageing policy and strategies would benefit from encouraging long-term participation in social groups to assist in adapting to changes that occur in later life and optimise healthy ageing.
A mixed-methods case study exploring the impact of participation in community activity groups for older adults on physical activity, health and wellbeing
- Authors: Lindsay-Smith, Gabrielle , Eime, Rochelle , O'Sullivan, Grant , Harvey, Jack , van Uffelen, Jannique
- Date: 2019
- Type: Text , Journal article
- Relation: Bmc Geriatrics Vol. 19, no. 1 (2019), p. 1-15
- Full Text:
- Description: Background Regular physical activity (PA) has many health benefits but declines with age. Community multi-activity groups offering volunteer-led socially-oriented activity programs could provide an opportunity for older people to maintain or increase PA levels and promote their health. The aim of this study was to examine the potential effect of becoming a member of an existing community activity group on PA levels, physical and mental health-related quality of life (HR QoL), comparing any impacts associated with participation in physical activity or social activity programs. Methods This mixed-methods case study, combining a longitudinal quantitative-survey with qualitative focus groups to contextualise the survey results, focused on an Australian community organisation called Life Activities Clubs (LACs). LACs provide various physical activities (e.g. walking, cycling, dancing) and social activities (e.g. book groups, dine-outs, craft). Data were collected using a self-report survey administered at baseline, six and twelve-months after joining and group differences between participants of PA programs (PA group) and social programs (social group) were analysed using linear mixed-models. Two focus groups with LAC members were held, one representing each activity type and analysed using content and thematic analysis. Results 35 people (mean age 67) completed the surveys and 11 people participated in the focus groups. PA levels and physical health-related QoL were maintained over 1 year in the PA group, and declined between baseline and 12-months in the social group. Focus groups suggested social aspects of PA programs increased motivation to maintain regular attendance and do more PA than participants would on their own and that physical activities provided health benefits. Mental HR QoL did not change in either group, focus groups suggested this was because the social aspects of both types of program provide benefits relating to mental health including stress relief, enjoyment and adapting to major life events, to prevent a decline in QoL. Conclusions Community PA programs appear to maintain PA levels and physical HR QoL in older adults, and both social and PA programs may maintain mental HR QoL. Incorporating both types of program into one organisation may also encourage less physically active members to try physical activities.