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Understanding Loneliness in Later Life

On the 3 April, Brunel Social Work academics Professor Holly Nelson-Becker and Dr Mike Thomas presented at a research seminar on Understanding Loneliness in Later Life, hosted by the Ageing Studies research theme at Brunel University London.

Professor Nelson-Becker discussed her research on loneliness at the end of life and in death, highlighting the complexities of discussing the preferences of service users, their families and health and social care practitioners about dying and end of life care.  Although many see the idea of dying alone as undesirable, Professor Nelson-Becker’s research demonstrates the importance of discussing individual preferences in end-of-life care plans.

Dr Mike Thomas, also of Brunel Social Work, presented his findings on the difficulties of doing interview research on loneliness.  Reporting back on a study of loneliness in later life, Dr Thomas reflected on the complexities of face-to-face conversations on sensitive topics, concluding that researchers need to be alert to the methods they use to investigate loneliness, and understand the impact these choices have on research participants and findings.

Helena Larsson from Malmo University/Kristianstad University, Sweden, presented from her doctoral research on existential loneliness and explored the idea that loneliness can be seen as a normal part of human experience.  This understanding helps in considering new ways to think about and respond to loneliness.

The research seminar also heard from Professor Christina Victor of Brunel University London on findings from the BBC Loneliness Experiment, a 2018 survey of 55,000 people about their experience of loneliness.  You can watch Professor Victor discussing her research findings here:

photo of Professor Christina Victor of Brunel University

Reported by:

Mike Thomas
+44 (0)1895 268563
michael.thomas@brunel.ac.uk