VNOP ISED CAS Research Days location:Leiden, the Netherlands date:12-13 November 2015
Loneliness is the unpleasant feeling that occurs when people perceive their social relations to be deficient in an important way, either quantitatively or qualitatively (Perlman & Peplau, 1981). Many studies have shown the detrimental effects of loneliness on children and adolescents’ well-being. Children and adolescents with a chronic physical condition might be especially vulnerable for feelings of loneliness. Having a chronic condition might interfere with daily activities, such as physical or recreational activities, school attendance, and contact with peers, because of limitations associated with their condition (e.g., reduced energy levels, physical limitations, or hospital admissions). However, empirical findings are largely inconsistent.
The present meta-analysis was based on 39 studies from seven different countries (70% US), representing 2,286 children and adolescents with a chronic physical condition and 1,330 healthy peers. By using an innovative multi-level approach that was based on standardized means, we were able to include studies with a control group (k = 21), but also studies without a control group (k = 18). Results showed that, on average, children and adolescents with a chronic physical condition were slightly lonelier than their healthy peers (d = 0.18). Several moderator effects are examined and implications for research and practice are discussed.