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Aging Ment Health. 2006 Sep;10(5):467-75.

Breaking the cycle of loneliness? Psychological effects of a friendship enrichment program for older women.

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  • 1Centre for Psychogerontology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. c.martina@pych.ru.nl

Abstract

The present study examines effects of participation in the friendship enrichment program, an intervention that is designed to stimulate improvement in friendship, self-esteem and subjective well-being, as well as reduction in loneliness among older women. The intervention group was compared to a control group of women who were interested in the program or in improving their friendships. All respondents had been studied at three points in time: at a baseline, prior to the program; three months later, and 9-10 months after baseline. The results indicate that the program was successful in attracting lonely older women who were willing to work on their friendships. Many participants reported improvement in the quantity and quality of their friendships. The program was moderately successful in stimulating improvement in subjective well-being and awareness of the need for an active stance toward achieving goals in social relations, especially in friendship. Loneliness among the participants was reduced, but it also declined in the control group, and both groups continued to experience loneliness. One conclusion is that an effective intervention to help older women reduce their loneliness should be multi-dimensional focusing not only on friendship but also on other personal and situational factors contributing to loneliness.

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