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Title: A qualitative study of barriers to social participation among lonely older adults : the influence of social fears and identity
Author: Goll, J. C.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Loneliness among older adults is a significant predictor of morbidity and mortality, and is therefore increasingly recognized as a major public health problem. Whilst mechanisms underpinning the development of loneliness in later life are poorly described, it has been associated with reduced levels of social participation outside the home. This thesis therefore sought to explore barriers to social participation among older adults. Part 1 comprises a systematic review of older adults’ subjective experiences of barriers to social participation. Fifteen qualitative studies were identified and assessed using Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Whilst results aligned with previous findings, they also emphasized several novel barriers that may guide future research, including: local population turnover, perceived neighbourhood danger, ageism, economics and power, social skill and confidence problems, identity processes, and adaptation to age-related changes. Part 2 comprises an empirical study of barriers to social participation in a sample of lonely older adults living independently in London, England. Here, particular attention was paid to processes of identity, which may hold particular influence over social participation. An inductive qualitative approach, based on semi-structured interviews and Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006), was employed. Findings highlighted that lonely older people commonly minimise the difficulties they face alone and avoid social opportunities, due to significant fears about the possibilities of social rejection and/or losing valued aspects of their identities. Part 3 comprises a discussion of issues pertinent to the conduction of research in this field. Topics explored include: the effects of personal assumptions upon qualitative findings, the management of emotional responses to interviews with very lonely older people, ideas for future research, and the impact of the present work on practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available