To read this content please select one of the options below:

Understanding the psychological drivers of loneliness: the first step towards developing more effective psychosocial interventions

Guy Robertson (Positive Ageing Associates, Bristol, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 17 September 2019

Issue publication date: 21 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to outline the need to develop a more balanced approach to addressing the loneliness experience by older people by recognising the psychological and emotional dynamics which cause it. It proposes a more holistic psychosocial approach to loneliness.


This paper draws on and reviews the published literature on the psychological aspects of loneliness.


Although not extensive, there is sufficient evidence to begin to develop and test more psychosocial approaches to addressing loneliness.

Research limitations/implications

The evidence base is not extensive and a fair degree of it has not been fully trialled with older people.

Practical implications

There is an a priori case for using the evidence that exists to develop and test out new psychosocial interventions for addressing loneliness.

Social implications

It is possible that a more psychosocial approach to loneliness will enable more to be done to address the significant distress of older people experience severe and chronic loneliness. It may also be possible to develop more effective preventative strategies which build resilience in older people.


The field of loneliness practice and research is overwhelmingly based on sociological analysis and social interventions. This paper is one of the first to explicitly highlight the value in drawing from psychological data in order to develop psychosocial approaches.



Robertson, G. (2019), "Understanding the psychological drivers of loneliness: the first step towards developing more effective psychosocial interventions", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 143-154.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles