NHS Health Scotland
Outcome Indicators

3.5 Community-based services to provide social support will increase knowledge and awareness of services, increase motivation to use these services and increase access. This, in turn, will contribute to increased attendance, participation and engagement, thus contributing to increased social support and social networks and reduced social isolation.



There is review-level evidence [1]to suggest that:

  • interventions offering ‘buddying’, self-help network or group-based emotional, educational, social or practical support to at-risk (widowed) older people can help to improve self-reported measures of health perceptions, adjusting to widowhood, stress, self-esteem and social functioning.[1]

  • community-based individual and group counselling sessions for carers of people with disabilities may be effective in reducing self-reported rating of psychiatric symptoms and improving social networks/support, coping and dealing with pressing problems.[1]

  • volunteering undertaken by older people improves the quality of life of those who volunteer, with those participating in face-to-face/direct volunteering achieving the greatest benefit compared with those involved in indirect, less-formal helping roles (evidence for volunteering is drawn from the USA and Canada ).[1]

  • group activities with educational or support input can be effective in addressing social isolation and loneliness in older people – programmes that enabled older people to be involved in planning and delivering activities are most likely to be effective.[2]


  1. Taylor L, Taske N, Swann C & Waller S (2006). Public health interventions to promote positive mental health and prevent mental health disorders among adults: Evidence briefing. NICE: London.

  2. Cattan M, White M, Bond J, & Learmouth A (2005). Preventing social isolation and loneliness among older people: a systematic review of health promotion interventions. Ageing & Society, 25:41-67.