Interventions for Loneliness Among Adult Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jennifer J. McElfresh, Meghan B. Skiba, Chris G. Segrin, Terry A. Badger, Tracy E. Crane, Janice D. Crist, Cynthia A. Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Problem identification: Loneliness is common after cancer, contributing to poor outcomes. Interventions to modify loneliness are needed. This systematic review describes the current literature regarding loneliness interventions in cancer survivors. Literature search: Databases including: Ovid/MEDLINE; The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); Elsevier/Embase; Clarivate/Web of Science (Core Collection), EBSCO/PsycINFO, EBSCO/CINAHL were used to perform a systematic review of literature using PRISMA guidelines. Second, risk of bias, meta-analysis and a narrative synthesis approach was completed to synthesize findings from multiple studies. Data evaluation/synthesis: Six thousand five hundred three studies were initially evaluated; eight studies met inclusion criteria. Findings indicate a paucity of interventions, generally of lower quality. Interventions were feasible and acceptable; those interventions with cultural modifications were more likely to demonstrate effectiveness. Conclusions: There are limited interventions addressing loneliness in cancer survivors. Development and testing of culturally-relevant programs are warranted. Implications for psychosocial oncology: Current studies suggest the psychosocial symptom of loneliness is modifiable among adult cancer survivors. Few interventions have been tested and shown to be effectiveness in cancer survivors in the U.S. and none have been tailored for older adult survivors, by patient gender/sex and few for specific race/ethnic groups. Results from this systematic review: a narrative synthesis and meta-analysis can inform future interventions targeting loneliness in this growing, yet vulnerable, adult cancer survivor population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-533
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Adult
  • cancer survivor
  • intervention
  • loneliness
  • psychosocial symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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