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Children’s Healing Center involvement reduces social isolation and loneliness among immunocompromised children and their family members

Laura B. Luchies, PhD, Amanda L. Barbour, BS, Samantha R. Anderson, BA

Abstract


Because they must avoid environments in which they are exposed to pathogens, children with a weakened immune system and their family members are at risk of experiencing social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation and loneliness predict many negative mental and physical health outcomes and are notable mortality risk factors. Therefore, the overall health of immunocompromised children and their family members would be promoted by avoiding exposure to pathogens while being afforded the opportunity to socialize and interact with others. The Children’s Healing Center (CHC) is a recreational facility designed to meet this crucial need of children, adolescents, and young adults with weakened immune systems and their family members. Findings from focus groups and surveys of people who have been involved with CHC, including immunocompromised adolescents and young adults and parents of immunocompromised children, provide initial evidence of CHC’s effectiveness at reducing social isolation and loneliness. By extension, CHC involvement would be expected to buffer the negative mental and physical health effects of social isolation and loneliness.


Keywords


social isolation, loneliness, weakened immune system, immunocompromised

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.2019.0194

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