Public Health Article

A meta-analysis of interventions to reduce loneliness

Review Quality Rating: 7 (moderate)

Citation: Masi CM, Chen HY, Hawkley LC, & Cacioppo JT. (2011). A meta-analysis of interventions to reduce loneliness. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(3), 219-266.

Article full-text (free)


Social and demographic trends are placing an increasing number of adults at risk for loneliness, an established risk factor for physical and mental illness. The growing costs of loneliness have led to a number of loneliness reduction interventions. Qualitative reviews have identified four primary intervention strategies: (a) improving social skills, (b) enhancing social support, (c) increasing opportunities for social contact, and (d) addressing maladaptive social cognition. An integrative meta-analysis of loneliness reduction interventions was conducted to quantify the effects of each strategy and to examine the potential role of moderator variables. Results revealed that single-group pre-post and nonrandomized comparison studies yielded larger mean effect sizes relative to randomized comparison studies. Among studies that used the latter design, the most successful interventions addressed maladaptive social cognition. This is consistent with current theories regarding loneliness and its etiology. Theoretical and methodological issues associated with designing new loneliness reduction interventions are discussed.


Adolescents (13-19 years), Adults (20-64 years), Community, Education / Awareness & Skill Development / Training, Grade school aged (5-12 years), Home, Internet, Mental Health, Meta-analysis, Phone, Primary health care provider office (e.g., Public health nurse, dietitian, social worker), School, Seniors (60+ years), Social Support (e.g., counseling, case management, outreach programs)

Register for free access to all Professional content