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Conceptual framework for social connectedness in mental disorders: systematic review and narrative synthesis

Hare Duke, Laurie; Dening, Tom; de Oliveira, Deborah; Milner, Katja; Slade, Mike

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Laurie Hare Duke

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Clinical Professor in Dementia Research

Deborah de Oliveira

Katja Milner

Professor of Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion


Background: Adults with mental disorders are at high risk of loneliness. Loneliness has been implicated in a wide variety of physical and mental health problems. Social connectedness interventions are one means to tackle loneliness but have shown mixed effectiveness. This study aims to: (1) identify existing measures of social connectedness and (2) develop a conceptual framework of social connectedness to inform future measurement and the development of new interventions.
Methods: A systematic review of studies from six bibliographic databases was conducted. Studies were included if a quantitative measure of social connectedness was used amongst samples of adults with a mental disorder. Two analyses were conducted: a best evidence synthesis of measurement properties for identified measures and a narrative synthesis of items from these measures.
Results: Twenty-eight papers were included, employing 22 different measures. Measurement properties were of poor or unknown quality. Data synthesis identified a five-dimension conceptual framework of social connectedness: Closeness, Identity and common bond, Valued relationships, Involvement and Cared for and accepted (giving the acronym CIVIC).
Limitations: The majority of studies were conducted in high-income countries. It was not possible to validate the conceptual framework using the identified psychometric data.
Conclusions: This new five-dimension framework of social connectedness in mental disorders provides the theoretical foundation for developing new measures and interventions for social connectedness.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 27, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 29, 2018
Publication Date Feb 15, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 30, 2019
Journal Journal of Affective Disorders
Print ISSN 0165-0327
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 245
Pages 188-199
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Conceptual framework for social connectedness in mental disorders: Systematic review and narrative synthesis; Journal Title: Journal of Affective Disorders; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.