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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2019 Sep;87(9):787-801. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000427.

GROUPS 4 HEALTH reduces loneliness and social anxiety in adults with psychological distress: Findings from a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

1
School of Psychology.
2
Research School of Psychology, The Australian National University.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Loneliness is a key public health issue for which various interventions have been trialed. However, few directly target the core feature of loneliness-lack of belonging. This is the focus of Groups 4 Health (G4H), a recently developed intervention that targets the development and maintenance of social group memberships to support health.

METHOD:

To investigate the efficacy of this intervention, a randomized controlled trial was conducted with participants (N = 120) assigned to G4H or treatment-as-usual (TAU) by computer software. Assessment of primary (loneliness) and secondary (depression, social anxiety, general practitioner visits, multiple group membership) outcomes was conducted at baseline and 2-month follow-up using mixed-model repeated-measures analyses.

RESULTS:

G4H produced a greater reduction in loneliness (d = -1.04) and social anxiety (d = -0.46) than TAU (d = -0.33 and d = 0.03, respectively). G4H was also associated with fewer general practitioner visits at follow-up (d = -0.33) and a stronger sense of belonging to multiple groups (d = 0.52) relative to TAU (d = 0.30 and d = 0.33, respectively). Depression declined significantly in both G4H (d = -0.63) and TAU (d = -0.34), but follow-up analyses showed this was greater in G4H among those not receiving adjunct psychopharmacological treatment and whose symptoms were milder.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings suggest that G4H can be a useful way to treat loneliness and highlight the importance of attending to group memberships when tackling this important social challenge. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID:
31403815
DOI:
10.1037/ccp0000427

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