Domain 12. Comfort
Class 3. Social comfort
Diagnostic Code: 00054
Nanda label: Risk for loneliness
Diagnostic focus: Loneliness
Loneliness is a feeling of sadness, alienation, and depression that can be dangerous to people’s mental and physical health. People may lack meaningful social relationships and feel isolated or may have a need for more companionship. At times, loneliness can become overwhelming in a highly toxic way, leading to clinical depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. Thankfully, there are ways to help people identify and manage feelings of loneliness before it becomes debilitating. A nursing diagnosis for risk for loneliness can help nurses provide care tailored to a patient’s emotional state.
NANDA Nursing Diagnosis Definition
The NANDA (North American Nursing Diagnosis Association International) definition of the nursing diagnosis risk for loneliness states: “At risk for experiencing a decreased sense of connectedness with self and/or others, which may lead to negative effects on emotional and physical well-being”. This diagnosis can be made when a client is showing signs of emotional distress due to feelings of loneliness.
There are many factors that can lead to feelings of loneliness. Some of these include:
- Age: Older age is associated with an increased risk for loneliness, particularly in elderly people who live alone.
- Relocation: Moving to a new city or area can increase the risk of loneliness because it is more difficult to form new relationships.
- Social Support: Having few close friends and relatives can lead to feelings of loneliness.
- Social Isolation: Spending too much time alone can lead to feelings of loneliness – even more so if activities like collecting mail or shopping can’t be done outside the home.
- Mental Illness: Mental illness can increase an individual’s risk for feelings of loneliness due to the lack of understanding and support from family and friends.
Suggestions For Use
Nurses can use this nursing diagnosis when caring for a patient who is at risk for experiencing feelings of loneliness. It is important to be aware of risk factors and to assess a patient’s level of loneliness in order to determine appropriate interventions. Nurses should work with the patient to come up with meaningful goals that will help them find purpose and connection.
Suggested Alternative NANDA Nursing Diagnosis
In addition to “Risk for Loneliness” other nursing diagnoses related to loneliness may include:
- Ineffective Coping: When a patient cannot effectively cope with negative emotions, they are at risk of developing depression.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD can cause people to feel isolated and disconnected.
- Impaired Social Interaction: When a person is unable to socially interact, it can increase their feelings of loneliness.
When assessing patients for the risk for loneliness, it is important to ask specific questions about their identifies, relationships, and goals. It is also important to respect all answers, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. Patients may also be reluctant to admit to feelings of loneliness, so it is important to have an open dialogue and be aware of any underlying feelings of loneliness that may be present.
NOC outcomes related to risk for loneliness include the following:
- Relationship Building: The patient knows how to build relationships with family members and other support systems.
- Coping Self-Statements: The patient is able to verbalize positive self-statements to help cope with feelings of loneliness.
- Social Network Connectedness: The patient has an understanding of the importance of being connected to other people and has ways to do so.
Evaluation Objectives and Criteria
To evaluate whether the patient has achieved the desired outcome of reduced feelings of loneliness, nurses should observe for changes in behavior and attitude, as well as assess for increases in self-confidence, social connectedness, and relationship building abilities. Additionally, it is important for nurses to observe whether the patient is displaying overall improved emotional and physical wellbeing.
Interventions specific to the nursing diagnosis Risk for Loneliness are as follows:
- Provide Supportive Care: Provide emotional encouragement, guidance and empathy to the patient.
- Encourage Social Involvement: Promote the patient’s involvement in social activities in order to help foster relationships and build community.
- Guide Patient Self-Exploration: Assist the patient in exploring their own feelings and thoughts so that they can gain insight into their motivations, needs, and fears.
- Assist in Developing Coping Skills: Educate the patient on effective coping strategies and provide support while implementing new coping skills.
Nursing activities associated with the nursing diagnosis Risk for Loneliness may include:
- Developing an individualized plan of care that addresses the patient’s identified loneliness risk factors
- Promoting patient independence by teaching self-care techniques
- Involving the patient in meaningful activities
- Providing patient education regarding the impact of loneliness
- Referring the patient to appropriate social services
Feelings of loneliness can have devastating consequences and should not be overlooked. Fortunately, nurses have the knowledge and skills to assess for the risk of loneliness and to provide interventions that can help ameliorate feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. Nursing diagnosis for risk for loneliness provides nurses with a framework for assessing and intervening with patients who may be at risk for experiencing feelings of loneliness.
- What is the definition of nursing diagnosis risk for loneliness? The NANDA (North American Nursing Diagnosis Association International) definition of the nursing diagnosis risk for loneliness states: “At risk for experiencing a decreased sense of connectedness with self and/or others, which may lead to negative effects on emotional and physical well-being”.
- What are some risk factors for loneliness? Some risk factors for loneliness include age, relocation, social support/isolation, and mental health issues.
- What kind of interventions should nurses provide for patients at risk for loneliness? Nurses should provide supportive care, encourage social involvement, guide patient self-exploration, and help develope coping skills.
- What should nurses look for when assessing patients for risk of loneliness? Nurses should be aware of risk factors and observe for changes in behavior and attitude. Assessing increases in self-confidence, social connectedness, and relationship building abilities is also important.
- What nursing activities can help patients who are at risk for loneliness? Nurses can develop an individualized plan of care, promote patient independence, involve the patient in meaningful activities, provide patient education, and refer them to social services.