Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Interventions for social isolation in older adults who have experienced a fall: a systematic review

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-20, 14:17 authored by Andrea C Tricco, Sonia M Thomas, Amruta Radhakrishnan, Naveeta Ramkissoon, Gary Mitchell, Jennifer FortuneJennifer Fortune, Ying Jiang, Margaret de Groh, Kerry Anderson, Joan Barker, Amélie Gauthier-Beaupré, Jennifer Watt, Sharon E Straus

Objectives: The objective of our systematic review was to identify the effective interventions to prevent or mitigate social isolation and/or loneliness in older adults who experienced a fall.

Design: Systematic review.

Data sources: MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Ageline were searched (from inception to February 2020).

Methods: Studies were eligible if they described any intervention for social isolation in older adults living in a community setting who experienced a fall, and reported outcomes related to social isolation or loneliness.Two independent reviewers screened citations, abstracted data and appraised risk of bias using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. The results were summarised descriptively.

Results: After screening 4069 citations and 55 full-text articles, four studies were included. The four studies varied in study design, including a randomised controlled trial, non-randomised controlled trial, an uncontrolled before-after study and a quasiexperimental study. Interventions varied widely, and included singing in a choir, a patient-centred, interprofessional primary care team-based approach, a multifactorial assessment targeting fall risk, appropriate medication use, loneliness and frailty, and a community-based care model that included comprehensive assessments and multilevel care coordination. Outcome measures varied and included scales for loneliness, social isolation, social interaction, social networks and social satisfaction. Mixed results were found, with three studies reporting no differences in social isolation or loneliness after the intervention. Only the multifactorial assessment intervention demonstrated a small positive effect on loneliness compared with the control group after adjustment (B=-0.18, 95% CI -0.35 to -0.02).

Conclusions: Few studies examined the interventions for social isolation or loneliness in older adults who experienced a fall. More research is warranted in this area.

Prospero registration number: CRD42020198487.


Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Evidence Alliance

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) under Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) initiative, and the generosity of partners from 41 public agencies and organisations across Canada who have made cash or in-kind contributions

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Synthesis

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation

Health Research Board (Ireland)

HSC Public Health Agency (Grant number CBES-2018-001) through Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Tricco AC. et al. Interventions for social isolation in older adults who have experienced a fall: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2022;12(3):e056540.

Publication Date

9 March 2022

PubMed ID



  • Public Health and Epidemiology


BMJ Publishing Group Ltd


  • Published Version (Version of Record)