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Understanding psychosocial determinants of alcohol use disorder (AUD) in older adults: exploring the role of social networks and loneliness in living with AUD (OLA study 2).

Lead applicant: Professor Julia Sinclair

Co-applicants: Dr Rebecca Band, Professor Jackie Bridges

Implementation Champion: Dr Stephen Lim

Starts: 01/01/2023

Ends: 01/07/2024


Alcohol use disorders (AUD) in older adults is a growing problem which is currently under-recognised and under-treated. With little research into this area, there is no in-depth understanding about the factors that may contribute to AUD in older adults, nor the lived experiences of this group. Some have suggested that factors such as social isolation, loneliness and loss associated with older age may be important in understanding alcohol use. We know that in general, limited social contact and loneliness have a negative impact on both mental and physical health.


One way to understand the amount and types of social connections someone has is to map their personal social network. This might include a whole range of people such as important family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances, pets, community places, groups or activities. This helps people to think about who is important in their daily lives, the roles that different relationships play, how this might have changed over time and how this might be improved, for example, by exploring ways to obtain additional support in the future.


In this study we will invite older adults who have participated in a linked study to take part in an interview. The linked study will follow-up older adults with AUD for 6 months after being admitted into hospital. The people invited to this study will be selected based on lots of different factors, such as their age, how many people they live with, or how lonely they are, to ensure we are able to capture a variety of experiences within this group. Only those who have given permission to be contacted will be approached.


The interviews will be 1:1 with a researcher and might happen in person, over the phone or through an online video call. Participants will first be guided through the process of mapping their current social network with the researcher. The interview will then discuss the support received from the person’s social network, as well as talking about the participants’ daily lives (including daily routines, physical and mental wellbeing and valued activities) and additional support needs. Interviews will last around 1 hour. They will be audio-recorded, transcribed and anonymised before analysis.

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