Covid-19 Remotely Delivered Interventions to Reduce Social Isolation and Loneliness

Download Full Briefing Paper Here

What we did 

We set out to review the evidence on interventions that seek to ameliorate loneliness or social isolation, or both, through remote interventions. Against a backdrop of mandatory social distancing, our aims were to understand how remote interventions may be effectively delivered. 

How we did it

We followed a ‘review of reviews’ methodology with a view to synthesising evidence from related (but differing) remote interventions for social isolation and loneliness. We sought to synthesise evidence presenting descriptive characteristics, using narrative synthesis, Intervention Component Analysis, Qualitative Component Analysis, and through creating evidence maps. To help to identify studies as systematic reviews, we drew on the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) criteria. 

What we found

  • Supported video-communication interventions were regarded positively by older adults, with some evidence of decreases in feelings of loneliness and increases in social support scores.
  • Telephone contact showed reduced feelings of loneliness and social isolation
  • Online discussion groups and forums showed mixed results.
  • Social networking sites have the potential to reduce loneliness in older adults, but the evidence here is weak.
  • Multi-tool interventions included in this review demonstrated significant decreases in loneliness, but not always increases in social support.

Remote interventions with each of the following characteristics are most effective:

  • Supporting development of close relationships: to express feelings freely and without self-consciousness (e.g. opportunities for unstructured discussions with peers).
  • Supporting interactions through ensuring participants share experiences/ characteristics: for example, being a carer, stroke survivor etc., or having shared characteristics  (e.g. women only, people of similar age/SES etc).
  • Support interactions through pastoral guidance: providing some form of pastoral care (e.g. light-touch oversight of a discussion forum by professionals, or opportunities for participants to contact professionals for advice).


In depth findings can be found in the report above


18th May 2020


Newcastle University logo

The University of Manchester logo