Our work in the news!

Ron Baecker and I were interviewed for a CBC radio special with Jesse Hirsh. We talked about social isolation and loneliness among older adults, and what we are developing and testing at TAGlab to help reduce it.

Our research was highlighted in a CBC news piece entitled How Skype and email could help seniors to avoid loneliness and an early death, and the radio show is available here.

Although there was no time to explain the difference between social isolation and loneliness on air, I should emphasize that difference here. In a multidimensional perspective, social isolation can be defined as a lack of quality, and/or quantity of social ties, low levels of participation in social activities, loneliness, as well as a lack of social support or social capital (Cornwell & Waite, 2009; Baecker et al., 2014). Loneliness is defined as a subjective feeling of lacking companionship or meaningful relationships (Perissinotto et al., 2012). Social isolation may lead to feelings of loneliness, but loneliness does not depend on social isolation per se: an individual can have a vast social network, but feel lonely, or not feel lonely even though they only have a small social network (Masi et al., 2011).


– Baecker, R., Neves, B., Sellen, K., Crosskey, S., & Boscart V. (2014, October 21). Technology to reduce social isolation and loneliness. Paper presented at ASSETS ’14: Proceedings of the 16th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on computers & accessibility, Rochester, New York. doi:10.1145/2661334.2661375
– Cornwell E. Y., & Waite, L. J. (2009). Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation, and health among older adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 50(1), 31-48.
– Masi, C., Chen, H. Y., Hawkley, L., Cacioppo, J. (2011). A meta-analysis of interventions to reduce loneliness. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(3), 219-266.
– Perissinotto, C. M., Cenzer, S., Covinsky, K. E. (2012). Loneliness in older persons: A predictor of functional decline and death. Archives of Internal Medecine, 172(14), 1078-1083

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