Social Isolation CPG (Adult)


    Social Isolation (Adult Inpatient)

    Clinical Description

    • Care of the hospitalized patient experiencing inability to interact with others either through individual reluctance or because of medical necessity.

    Key Information

    • Socially isolated people are more likely to develop physical and mental health issues.
    • Isolation from support system can cause significant distress and increased risk for suicidal thoughts.
    • Research has shown that time spent by healthcare professionals in direct patient care is either less frequent or shorter with patients in isolation, which may perpetuate or augment an existing social isolation problem.
    • Medically required isolation is an artificial environment which imposes a loss of or limited autonomy, in addition to limited contact with others.

    Clinical Goals

    By transition of care

    A. The patient will achieve the following goals:
    • Social Connection Supported

    B. Patient, family or significant other will teach back or demonstrate education topics and points:
    • Education: Overview
    • Education: Self Management
    • Education: When to Seek Medical Attention

    Correlate Health Status

    • Correlate health status to:

      • history, comorbidity
      • age, developmental level
      • sex, gender identity
      • baseline assessment data
      • physiologic status
      • response to medication and interventions
      • psychosocial status, social determinants of health
      • barriers to accessing care and services
      • health literacy
      • cultural and spiritual preferences
      • safety risks
      • family interaction
      • plan for transition of care

    Social Isolation


    • anxiety
    • depressed affect
    • developmentally inappropriate behavior
    • hopelessness
    • irritability
    • lack of social support/resources
    • reports social insecurity
    • sadness
    • social withdrawal

    Problem Intervention

    Promote Feelings of Connectedness

    • Promote environment conducive to social interaction (e.g., window to outside, open curtains, telephone, Internet, television, social media access).
    • Evaluate need for language resources (e.g., interpreter, radio, television programs).
    • Prioritize activities and offer choices that allow control and meet personal goals for socialization.
    • Encourage family/support system to actively participate in care; adjust care schedule to maximize family or visitor time.
    • Offer diversional activity, such as pet therapy, art therapy, group activities, volunteer visits, online group games or activities.
    • Provide opportunities for expression of feelings, thoughts and stressors to assist with coping.
    • Identify and encourage use of coping strategies for managing illness-associated isolation (e.g., meditation, belief system, self-reflection).
    • Encourage development of new active interests such as keeping a journal, and coping skills such as reframing, focus on time-limited nature of situation and future plans.
    • Promote consistent caregivers; provide frequent interaction.
    • Assess and monitor for signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

    Associated Documentation

    • Complementary Therapy
    • Supportive Measures


    CPG-Specific Education Topics


    • risk factors

    • signs/symptoms

    Self Management

    • resources for support

    • social interaction

    When to Seek Medical Attention

    • unresolved/worsening symptoms

    General Education Topics

    General Education

    • admission, transition of care

    • orientation to care setting, routine

    • advance care planning

    • diagnostic tests/procedures

    • diet modification

    • opioid medication management

    • oral health

    • medication management

    • pain assessment process

    • safe medication disposal

    • tobacco use, smoke exposure

    • treatment plan

    Safety Education

    • call light use

    • equipment/home supplies

    • fall prevention

    • harm prevention

    • infection prevention

    • MDRO (multidrug-resistant organism) care

    • personal health information

    • resources for support

    Population-Specific Considerations

    • Older adults are more likely to experience social isolation.


    • Biagioli, V.; Piredda, M.; Alvaro, R.; de Marinis, M. The experiences of protective isolation in patients undergoing bone marrow or haematopoietic stem cell transplantation: Systematic review and metasynthesis. European Journal of Cancer Care. 2016; doi:10.1111/ecc.12461 [Metasynthesis,Meta-analysis,Systematic Review]
    • Cacioppo, S.; Grippo, A. J.; London, S.; Goossens, L.; Cacioppo, J. T. Loneliness: Clinical import and interventions. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2015;10(2), 238-249. doi:10.1177/1745691615570616 [Review Articles,Expert/Committee Opinion,Core Curriculum,Position Statements,Practice Bulletins]
    • Calati, R.; Ferrari, C.; Brittner, M.; Oasi, O.; Olié, E.; Carvalho, A. F.; Courtet, P.. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors and social isolation: A narrative review of the literature. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2019;245, 653-667. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2018.11.022 Source[Review Articles]
    • Doenges, M. E.; Moorhouse, M. F.; Murr, A. C. (2016). Nurse's pocket guide: Diagnoses, prioritized interventions, and rationales. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis. [Review Articles,Expert/Committee Opinion,Core Curriculum,Position Statements,Practice Bulletins]
    • Gardiner, C.; Geldenhuys, G.; Gott, M. Interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people: an integrative review. Health and Social Care in the Community. 2018;26(2), 147-157. doi:0.1111/hsc.12367 Source[Review Articles]
    • Holt-Lunstad, J.; Smith, T. B.; Baker, M.; Harris, T.; Stephenson, D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2015;10(2), 227. [Metasynthesis,Meta-analysis,Systematic Review]
    • Ignatavicius, D. D.; Workman, M. L. (2016). Medical-surgical nursing: Patient-centered collaborative care. St. Louis: Saunders, Elsevier. [Review Articles,Expert/Committee Opinion,Core Curriculum,Position Statements,Practice Bulletins]
    • Mikkelsen, A. S. B.; Petersen, S.; Dragsted, A. C.; Kristiansen, M. Social Interventions Targeting Social Relations Among Older People at Nursing Homes: A Qualitative Synthesized Systematic Review. INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing. 2019;56 doi:10.1177/0046958018823929 Source[Systematic Review]
    • Newman, K.; Wang, A. H.; Wang, A. Z. Y.; Hanna, D. The role of internet-based digital tools in reducing social isolation and addressing support needs among informal caregivers: a scoping review. BMC Public Health. 2019;19 doi:10.1186/s12889-019-7837-3 Source[Review Articles]
    • Purssell, E.; Gould, D.; Chudleigh, J. Impact of isolation on hospitalised patients who are infectious: systematic review with meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2020; doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2019-030371 Source[Meta-analysis]


    Clinical Practice Guidelines represent a consistent/standardized approach to the care of patients with specific diagnoses. Care should always be individualized by adding patient specific information to the Plan of Care.

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