Scoping review summary

The Knowledge and Implementation Hub (the Hub) team conducted a scoping review of published research literature to identify evidence on the priority topic of social isolation in aged care. We have summarised this evidence in the form of ‘evidence themes.’ Each theme describes a specific issue within the broader topic of social isolation.  

This page provides a brief overview of the scoping review process. For more detailed information, please see the PDF version of the scoping review report.

What we did

We conducted the first review in 2022 and updated it in 2023. The first review was specific to social isolation in older people specifically in aged care settings. The updated review considered older people in all settings more broadly, including community settings, as social isolation in older people is a concern that occurs in all settings. Moreover, issues and strategies to address social isolation may be relevant, applicable, and transferable in various settings.   

In the 2022 review, the search was conducted in three major databases using a range of search terms describing (1) social isolation, (2) older people in aged care settings, and (3) systematic reviews. The databases searched were PubMed, ProQuest’s Social Science Premium Collection, and PsycInfo (OVID). In the updated review, six major databases were searched using an extensive range of search terms describing (1) social isolation, (2) older people (in all settings), and (3) systematic reviews. The databases searched were PubMed, CINAHL, EMCARE, MEDLINE, PsycInfo and Social Science Premium Collection.

Reviews were included if the participants of interest were 60 years and older, focused on social isolation and published in English. Each citation retrieved by the searches was screened by two researchers independently against the eligibility criteria. 

We also convened an Evidence Advisory Group, consisting of experts in the field of social isolation aged care. The group provided us with feedback on the scoping review methodology and preliminary results. Individual members also reviewed the final evidence themes before they were made available on the Hub website.

Keeping evidence themes current

The evidence themes on this topic are kept current via regular, scheduled updates. For this, newly published reviews with relevance to the topic will be identified using the same databases and additional databases as needed. Reviews on an issue covered by an existing evidence theme were used to update that theme’s content. This might mean including new information or making changes to conclusions based on the strength or direction of the more recent evidence. If the update process revealed an important new issue, a new evidence theme would be required.

What we found

The updated scoping review identified 42 reviews on social isolation published since 2012.  From these reviews, eight evidence were identified.

  • Age-related hearing loss  
  • Cultural awareness  
  • Impacts of social isolation 
  • Information and Communication Technology 
  • Person-centred approach
  • Predictors of social isolation
  • Social prescribing 
  • Social participation