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
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- 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.
The association between social support and physical activity in older adults : A systematic review
- Authors: Lindsay Smith, Gabrielle , Banting, Lauren , Eime, Rochelle , O'Sullivan, Grant , van Uffelen, Jannique
- Date: 2017
- Type: Text , Journal article , Review
- Relation: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Vol. 14, no. 1 (2017), p. 1-21
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- Description: Background: The promotion of active and healthy ageing is becoming increasingly important as the population ages. Physical activity (PA) significantly reduces all-cause mortality and contributes to the prevention of many chronic illnesses. However, the proportion of people globally who are active enough to gain these health benefits is low and decreases with age. Social support (SS) is a social determinant of health that may improve PA in older adults, but the association has not been systematically reviewed. This review had three aims: 1) Systematically review and summarise studies examining the association between SS, or loneliness, and PA in older adults; 2) clarify if specific types of SS are positively associated with PA; and 3) investigate whether the association between SS and PA differs between PA domains. Methods: Quantitative studies examining a relationship between SS, or loneliness, and PA levels in healthy, older adults over 60 were identified using MEDLINE, PSYCInfo, SportDiscus, CINAHL and PubMed, and through reference lists of included studies. Quality of these studies was rated. Results: This review included 27 papers, of which 22 were cross sectional studies, three were prospective/longitudinal and two were intervention studies. Overall, the study quality was moderate. Four articles examined the relation of PA with general SS, 17 with SS specific to PA (SSPA), and six with loneliness. The results suggest that there is a positive association between SSPA and PA levels in older adults, especially when it comes from family members. No clear associations were identified between general SS, SSPA from friends, or loneliness and PA levels. When measured separately, leisure time PA (LTPA) was associated with SS in a greater percentage of studies than when a number of PA domains were measured together. Conclusions: The evidence surrounding the relationship between SS, or loneliness, and PA in older adults suggests that people with greater SS for PA are more likely to do LTPA, especially when the SS comes from family members. However, high variability in measurement methods used to assess both SS and PA in included studies made it difficult to compare studies. © 2017 The Author(s).