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“On their own”: social isolation, loneliness and chronic musculoskeletal pain in older adults

Toby Smith (School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 12 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the concepts of social isolation and loneliness in relation to people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Through these concepts, biological, psychological and social factors will be examined to consider how we can identify people at risk of social isolation and loneliness who have chronic musculoskeletal pain and then how health professionals may intervene to reduce their effects.

Design/methodology/approach

Conceptual paper.

Findings

Social isolation and loneliness are often evident in the situation of people with chronic musculoskeletal diseases. This may be bi-directional where pains may lead to social isolation and loneliness, but equally, social isolation and loneliness may exacerbate pain. Interventions to improve the symptoms of chronic musculoskeletal pain, and also approaches around social participation and engagement should be adopted in combination to ameliorate this potentially disabling scenario.

Originality/value

There remains limited evidence around the prevalence and management of social isolation and loneliness for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. By raising awareness of social isolation and loneliness in this population, people with chronic musculoskeletal pain may be better supported to reduce the negative impact that social isolation and loneliness can have on their health and well-being.

Keywords

Citation

Smith, T. (2017), "“On their own”: social isolation, loneliness and chronic musculoskeletal pain in older adults", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 87-92. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-03-2017-0010

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited