Loneliness in older people and COVID-19: Applying the social identity approach to digital intervention design

Stuart, Avelie; Katz, Dmitri; Stevenson, Clifford; Gooch, Daniel; Harkin, Lydia; Bennasar, Mohamed; Sanderson, Lisa; Liddle, Jacki; Bennaceur, Amel; Levine, Mark; Mehta, Vikram; Wijesundara, Akshika; Talbot, Catherine; Bandara, Arosha; Price, Blaine and Nuseibeh, Bashar (2022). Loneliness in older people and COVID-19: Applying the social identity approach to digital intervention design. Computers in Human Behavior Reports, article no. 100179.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chbr.2022.100179

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening loneliness for many older people through the challenges it poses in engaging with their social worlds. Digital technology has been offered as a potential aid, however, many popular digital tools have not been designed to address the needs of older adults during times of limited contact. We propose that the Social Identity Model of Identity Change (SIMIC) could be a foundation for digital loneliness interventions. While SIMIC is a well-established approach for maintaining wellbeing during life transitions, it has not been rigorously applied to digital interventions. There are known challenges to integrating psychological theory in the design of digital technology to enable efficacy, technology acceptance, and continued use. The interdisciplinary field of Human Computer Interaction has a history of drawing on models originating from psychology to improve the design of digital technology and to design technologies in an appropriate manner. Drawing on key lessons from this literature, we consolidate research and design guidelines for multidisciplinary research applying psychological theory such as SIMIC to digital social interventions for loneliness.

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