The loss: Conceptualising biographical experiences of disability, social isolation and emotional loneliness in North-East England

Lesley Deacon, Stephen J. Macdonald, Jackie Nixon, Abisope Akintola, Samouka Dore, Gillian Ellis, Anna Gillingham, Liz Highmore, Abolaji Ismail, Jacqueline Kent, Debbie Matthews, Sylvia Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Research into experiences of social isolation and loneliness has predominantly
focused on older adults, rhose post-retirement, as a significant at-risk group. Similarly,
research exploring disability and loneliness has been associated with old age and
conceptualised as an inevitable outcome of ‘failing’ health. This study seeks to conceptualise
experiences of disability from a wider age group to understand if occurrences of social
isolation and loneliness are commonplace. Fifteen qualitative biographical narrative
interviews were completed by a Community Research Team, including 7 males and 8 females
aged 32–89. A Disability Studies approach was applied to identify significant pathways from
isolation into emotional loneliness, experienced by participants; fourteen of whom were
affected by disability issues. Key risk factors were identified relating to disabled participants’
experiences of ‘loss’. Loss was associated with ‘loss of ability’, ‘loss due to bereavement’,
‘loss of social connectivity’ and ‘loss of self-confidence’. Participants connected life events
concerning loss with spending time alone, leading to feelings of emotional loneliness. The
findings illustrate key risk factors in being alone during evenings and weekends, periods
where disabled participants were most likely to experience subjective feelings of emotional
loneliness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68 - 87
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Work and Social Sciences Review
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019

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    Deacon, L., Macdonald, S. J., Nixon, J., Akintola, A., Dore, S., Ellis, G., Gillingham, A., Highmore, L., Ismail, A., Kent, J., Matthews, D., & Sullivan, S. (2019). The loss: Conceptualising biographical experiences of disability, social isolation and emotional loneliness in North-East England. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 68 - 87. https://doi.org/10.1921/swssr.v20i3.1319