1. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, multi-domain risk factors, including biological, psychological and behavioral, and socioeconomic factors, significantly correlated with social isolation among community-dwelling older adults worldwide.
2. Furthermore, factors associated with higher odds of social isolation included having no spouse, self-rated poor health, having less than or equal to a high school degree, and living alone.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Social isolation has a significant impact on the mental and physical health of older adults. Unfortunately, around one-quarter of community-dwelling older adults experience social isolation. Although social isolation is associated with several adverse health effects in older adults, the factors that put people at risk of social isolation remain poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate the variables that affect the likelihood of social isolation in older adults living in the community.
Of 3,403 identified records, 42 studies were included from database inception to April 2023. Studies were included if they were observational and examined social isolation risk factors in participants 60 years or older who were living in the community. Studies were excluded if participants had serious illnesses or were hospitalized. The probability of bias of the included studies was assessed using the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Newcastle-Ottawa scale. The review was carried out according to PRISMA guidelines. The primary outcome was the effect of the various factors of interest on the risk of social isolation in older adults.
The results demonstrated that multi-domain risk factors, including biological, psychological and behavioral, and socioeconomic factors, significantly correlated with social isolation among community-dwelling older adults worldwide. Biological factors associated with social isolation included having no spouse, activities of daily living (ADL) impairment, and self-rated poor health. Other factors included having less than or equal to a high school degree, living alone, and absence of social participation. However, the study was limited by the cross-sectional nature of most of the included studies, which limited the ability to make conclusions about causation. Nonetheless, the present study identified several factors which may predispose community-dwelling older adults to social isolation.
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