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Title: General Practitioners' views and experiences of loneliness in their older adult patients
Author: Jovicic, Ana
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 8688
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2018
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Background: Loneliness is associated with numerous detrimental effects on physical health, mental health, cognition, and lifestyle. Older adults are one of the groups at highest risk of loneliness, and indeed about 46% of older adults in England are lonely. Those experiencing loneliness visit their General Practitioner (GP) more frequently than those who are not, which has the capacity to put a strain on GPs and primary care waiting lists and costs. There is some literature on GPs’ experiences of other social problems, but it is yet unknown how GPs in the UK perceive and work with loneliness in older adult patients. Aims: To explore GPs’ views and experiences of loneliness within their older adult patients. Method: A qualitative approach was taken for this research and followed a social constructivist perspective. 19 GPs were recruited using researcher contacts, snowballing, and purposive sampling. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted either in person or over the telephone. Data were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis Findings: Five over-arching themes and 14 corresponding sub-themes were presented. GPs’ definitions of loneliness and its prevalence in our society is discussed. GPs held a medicalised and individualistic view regarding loneliness. They discussed their barriers to raising the topic, as well as the social stigma surrounding loneliness for both GP and patient. GPs felt powerless in their ability to fix the problem, and tended to use self-protection strategies. Further need for GP support and system improvements were discussed. Conclusions: Study findings are discussed in the context of relevant theories and literature. Implications include greater emphasis on social problems like loneliness in GP training, more practical and emotional support for qualified GPs, and a clearer more streamlined approach to managing loneliness presentations in primary care. Strengths and limitations of the study are discussed, and avenues for future research suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General)