Existential Loneliness Among Older People from the Perspective of Health Care Professionals: A European Multicenter Study

Anna-Karin Edberg, Giusy Trogu, Alessandra Manattini, Agnieszka Renn-Żurek, Daria Maria Modrzejewska, Elżbieta Barbara Woźnicka, Silvia Popovici, Liliana Pintilie, Ingela Beck, Akvilė Virbalienė, Aurelija Šiurienė

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Health care professionals (HCPs) encounter different forms of loneliness in their work. It is essential that they have the courage, skills, and tools to deal with loneliness, in particular with existential loneliness (EL) which relates to meaning in life and the fundamentals of living and dying.

AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate HCPs' views on loneliness among older people and their understanding, perception, and professional experience of EL in older people.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In all, 139 HCPs from five European countries participated in audio-recorded focus group and individual interviews. The transcribed materials were locally analyzed using a predefined template. The participating countries' results were then translated, merged, and inductively analyzed using conventional content analysis.

RESULTS: Participants described different forms of loneliness - a negative form that is unwanted and causes suffering, and a positive form where solitude is desired and sought. The results showed that the HCPs' knowledge and understanding of EL varied. The HCPs mainly related EL to different types of loss, eg loss of autonomy, independence, hope, and faith, and to concern alienation, guilt, regret and remorse, and concerns about the future.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The HCPs expressed a need to improve their sensitivity and self-confidence to engage in existential conversations. They also stated the need to increase their knowledge and understanding of aging, death, and dying. Based on these results, a training program aimed to increase knowledge and understanding of older people's situation has been developed. The program includes practical training in conversations about emotional and existential aspects, based on recurrent reflections on the topics presented. The program is available at: www.aloneproject.eu.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2241-2252
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology Research and Behavior Management
Volume16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023-Jun-20

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Nursing (30305)

Keywords

  • older people
  • health care professionals
  • existential loneliness
  • qualitative
  • multicenter study

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