UofL School of Nursing researcher is recruiting older adults in Southern Indiana for a loneliness study related to COVID-19

September 20, 2021

The COVID-19 has exacerbated  loneliness and depression. Although community shut-downs and social distancing may help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the requirements do come with a cost.

In an effort to address this, University of Louisville  School of Nursing researcher Karen Robinson, PhD, RN, FAAN, will test the feasibility of a virtual social skills intervention to increase understanding of how to help Older Adults with Chronic Illness (OACI) re-emerge from the COVID pandemic.

Grant funding from Samtec Cares will support the  “Access to Virtual Technology and a Social Skills Intervention” research study. Effective interventions to reduce loneliness and social isolation are of highest priority during and after the pandemic for prevention of negative outcomes, especially in the OACI population, who are at highest risk for severe disease or even death due to COVID-19.

OACI have a double risk to experience negative outcomes during and after the pandemic, first from severe outcomes of virus infection due to high rates of chronic illnesses and second from maintaining social distancing resulting in increased loneliness and depression. 

“After anyone receives a diagnosis of a chronic illness, the quality of your social network will influence outcomes related to your wellbeing and health.  Ultimately knowing certain social skills allows you to gain necessary social support,” said Robinson, who serves as director of Healthy Aging Initiatives. “Ultimately whether you are hospitalized and discharged to a nursing home or discharged home depends on the quality of your social network.  Examples of social skills include how to ask for help, how to give instructions when help is offered and how to use community resources.”

After eligibility is determined, the social skills intervention will occur in two virtual meetings of two hours each for a total of four hours. A virtual pretest and posttest (one month after intervention) will take approximately one hour each.

The Samtec Cares Grant Program was created to support important projects within the community, and three southern Indiana community groups are partnering to help recruit volunteers for the study. Additional information about the study or eligibility information can be found on our research study website.


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