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Maintenance and Development of Social Connection by People with Long-term Conditions: A Qualitative Study

Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Undergraduate students at the time of the study.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 1875;
Received: 2 April 2019 / Revised: 20 May 2019 / Accepted: 24 May 2019 / Published: 28 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disabilities, Health and Well-being)
PDF [284 KB, uploaded 28 May 2019]


Social connection is important for people’s health and well-being. Social isolation arising from a lack of meaningful connection with others can result in deterioration of well-being with negative consequences for health. For people living with multiple long-term conditions, the building and maintaining of social connection may be challenging. The aim of this study was to explore with people with long-term conditions how they perceive they maintain and develop social connections. We undertook semi-structured interviews with seventeen adults, and analyzed the data for themes. Themes were “Meaningful connection”, “Wherewithal for social connection” and “Impact of a major change in life course”. The findings suggest that social connection is valued, and facilitates meaningful ways to reciprocate support with others, thus enabling access to knowledge and resources for better health and well-being. However, people with long-term conditions can experience challenges to developing and maintaining social connectedness after a major change in life course. We suggest that healthcare providers are well placed to facilitate ways for people with long-term conditions to socially connect with others in their neighbourhood and community, and that this in particular be attended to after a major life change. View Full-Text
Keywords: social connection; long-term conditions; health; qualitative research social connection; long-term conditions; health; qualitative research
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Wilkinson, A.; Bowen, L.; Gustavsson, E.; Håkansson, S.; Littleton, N.; McCormick, J.; Thompson, M.; Mulligan, H. Maintenance and Development of Social Connection by People with Long-term Conditions: A Qualitative Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1875.

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