Systematic Review

We are currently conducting three systematic reviews, aiming to identify the nature and extent, and evaluate the quality, of the research literature on health and social care interventions that help people to develop and enhance their social relationships.  This systematic review will therefore provide policy makers, researchers and practitioners with an overview of the international literature and will help to inform decisions about how to plan effective interventions and to identify future research needs.

Studies will be reviewed and synthesised to address the three sub-group samples within the population:

  • adults with a learning disability
  • adults with a mental health problem
  • older adults with a functional mental health problem (aged 65 and over)

Focused Research Question
What is the evidence for the effectiveness of health and social care interventions that promote the social participation and well-being of adults with a learning disability or mental health problem?

Defining relevant studies
Reputable definitions of social capital have been utilised to inform the definition of social participation in health and social care literature.  However, the aim of this review is to systematically identify and synthesise empirical evidence on social participation.  We use the terms ‘social participation’ rather than ‘social capital’ because we are focusing on a directly observable aspect of social capital that is seen as a means to achieve well-being, rather than the use of social relations to generate returns, i.e. the product of active participation.

Selection Criteria
To be considered relevant to this review, research evidence must meet the following criteria:

  • Interventions which investigated the association between social participation and mental health as central components (aims,/main focus) of the study
  • Reported aims to address individual-level changes
  • Measured well-being as it relates to an individual’s social contribution, and not personal perceptions of well-being alone
  • Provided evidence on the experience of social participation for individuals, even if the primary outcome measured social or peer support (see above definitions)
  • Targeted adults aged 18 and over
  • Published in the English language

The following types of studies are eligible for inclusion in the review:
Randomised controlled trials (RCT’s), non-randomised controlled trials, case-control series, cohort studies, controlled before and after studies, interrupted time series, correlation studies, case reports/studies and case series studies, process/implementation evaluations, qualitative studies/ethnographies, longitudinal studies

We will soon be posting preliminary findings from our review and, in the future, linking to published review papers.  We welcome your feedback on our process and research question!

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