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Research Article Open Access

The Impact of Physical Activity Interventions on Social Isolation Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Systematic Review

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of physical activity interventions on social isolation in older community - dwelling adults. A mixed methods methodologically inclusive systematic review was conducted for the complete holdings to April 2012, updated to April 2014 of MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycInfo and Social Sciences Citation Index. A meta - analysis and narrative synthesis were performed to analyse the data. The pooled estimate of the effect of physical activity interventions on social isolation was 0.41 (95% CI = 0.08 to 0.75). The narrative synthesis outlined that older adults believe group physical activity interventions assist them to meet others, expand their social networks and improve their physical health. Group physical activity interventions had a greater impact on social isolation than social activity alone. Changes in social isolation were not maintained long - term. The findings of this study demonstrate that group physical activity interventions could be used to decrease social isolation in the older community - dwelling population. However, these findings should be viewed with consideration of the inconsistent range of intervention parameters and different measurements for social isolation.

Lauren M Robins, Paul Jansons, Terry Haines

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