Scoping Review of the Literature Social Isolation of Seniors 2013-2014

Appendix A: Criteria for the selection of literature

Research question: What is known from the existing literature about “how social isolation affects seniors and best practices and innovative ways to prevent and/or reduce the social isolation of seniors in Canada?

Identifying Relevant Literature: The process to identify relevant literature involved searching accessible electronic databases, government websites and an email consultation with representatives from various levels of government. Relevant studies included peer-reviewed articles, along with grey literature (e.g. research reports, government reports, government and non-government evaluations of programs/services, theses, and policy analyses) within the 2000-2013 time range. The National Seniors Council (NSC) Secretariat staff provided support through this process.

Search terms: The following search terms were used when searching databases, journals, and government websites. These were applied in both English and French. Per the search criteria, article titles had to contain words related to the topics of social isolation and seniors. The full body text of articles had to contain words related to the causes, consequences and potential best/promising practices.

A variety of synonyms were applied to identify a broad amount literature:

  • Social… isolation, desolation, remoteness, segregation, aloneness, detachment, reclusiveness, retreat, withdrawal, capital, exclusion, integration, participation, networks, loneliness
  • Seniors, older adults, elderly, elder, aging, frail, retired
  • Causes, risk factors, determinants, root, antecedent
  • Consequences, effects, repercussion, reaction, aftermath
  • Initiatives, best/good/promising practices, interventions, solutions, activities, support

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Written between 2000-2013 inclusively (greater value is placed on more current sources of information)
  • Focus on social isolation and seniors
  • Contain original research on the following themes:
    • risk factors and/or consequences related to social isolation of seniors
    • the extent of the social isolation of seniors in Canada
    • best/promising practices to prevent/reduce social isolation of seniors
  • Contain a transparent and clear methodology
  • Provide gap-analyses (of data and of programs/services)
  • Both the NSC and the Government of Canada has permission to:
    • access the text
    • reference the text in the scoping review and the NSC’s 2013-2014 final report
  • Meeting fair proportion of material/content quotas, including:
    • the themes identified above (risk factors, extent and best/promising practices)
    • diversity of seniors groups
    • information (evidence) drawn from the different Canadian regions
    • international and domestic information
    • qualitative and quantitative empirical evidence
  • Articles that have been specifically recommended for inclusion, or identified as key/critical to seniors’ social isolation by consulted partners
  • Key/critical publications identified during the consultation process, including the regional roundtables

Exclusion criteria:

  • Published in or prior to 1999 inclusively
  • Unrelated to social isolation
  • Articles that are non-seniors-related
  • Commentaries, editorials, or news articles
  • Non-English/non-French language
  • Topics already covered (need to ensure proportionality of studies as per the content quotas). In the event of duplication, articles that meet a greater number of inclusion criteria will be given preference.
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