Study on Older Adults and Loneliness

July 10, 2019

From the Places for People blog:

A recent study by Places for People’s Research and Evaluation Team appears in the June edition of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal.

The article, “Loneliness and depressive symptoms in middle aged and older adults experiencing serious mental illness,” (, highlights the high prevalence of loneliness among older adults who receive intensive case management services, and identifies the unique relationship of loneliness to depressive symptoms. Emotional loneliness—the perceived inadequacy of intimate relationships—may be an important target for intervention to promote the quality of life among persons with serious mental illness.

Places for People Research and Evaluation Team Leader Nathan Dell, AM, MSW, LCSW, and Research Interviewers Allison Murphy, MSW, LMSW, and Michelle Pelham, MSW, wrote the article.

“Increasing attention has been directed towards the poor physical and mental health outcomes associated with the perceived lack of close relationships. While loneliness in older adulthood has been widely studied, less research has focused on persons with mental illness, who may be at greater risk for experiencing loneliness,” Dell said. “ A recent review of interventions to reduce loneliness among persons with mental health conditions shows that stronger evidence is needed to guide practice.” (

The study resulted from a program to serve older adults with mental illness that was funded by the Marillac Mission Fund (formerly Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis). Places for People has two treatment teams dedicated to serving people age 50 or older. This year, another grant was awarded by the Marillac Mission Fund to implement an evidence-informed social skills training group for older adults.

Dell, Murphy and Pelham previously shared an earlier version of this study in January at the 23rd Annual Conference for the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) in San Francisco, CA.