Mechanisms through which befriending services may impact the health of older adults: A dyadic qualitative investigation

Caoimhe Hannigan, Michelle Kelly, Eimile Holton, Brian Lawlor, Thomas Scharf, Frank Kee, Sean Moynihan, Aileen O'Reilly, Joanna McHugh Power

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Abstract

Befriending services are often delivered to older adults with a view to improving social connectedness, but they may also lead to improved health. The objective of the current study was to explore potential mechanisms through which befriending services might impact the health of older adults. Data were collected from 13 befriendee-befriender dyads (  = 26), using a constructivist grounded theory and dyadic analytic approach. Potential mechanisms were described, using a realist evaluative framework of mechanistic processes in a complex intervention context. Five mechanisms of action triggered by the intervention were identified: supporting health behaviours; providing emotional support; improving mood; getting cognitive stimulation and novelty; and providing opportunities for socialising. We identified five potential mechanisms through which befriending services might impact health for older people. Our results suggest potential mechanisms through which befriending might positively impact the health of older people, and which should be evaluated empirically in future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Early online date04 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 04 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • social support
  • subjective wellbeing
  • volunteering
  • intervention
  • healthy ageing
  • loneliness

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