Interventions to improve social determinants of health among elderly ethnic minority groups: a review

Michelle S Pool, Charles O Agyemang, Martin Smalbrugge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Like the European general population, ethnic minorities are aging. In this group, important social determinants of health (social participation, social isolation and loneliness) that lead to negative health outcomes frequently occur. Interventions targeting these determinants may decrease negative health outcomes. The goal of this article was to identify effective interventions that improve social participation, and minimise social isolation and loneliness in community dwelling elderly ethnic minorities.

Methods: An electronic database (PubMed) was systematically searched using an extensive search strategy, for intervention studies in English, French, Dutch of German, without time limit. Additional articles were found using references. Articles were included if they studied an intervention aimed to improve social participation or minimise social isolation or loneliness and were focusing on community dwelling elderly ethnic minorities. Data regarding studies characteristics and results were extracted.

Results: Six studies (three randomized controlled trials, three non-controlled intervention studies) were included in the review. All studies were group-based interventions and had a theoretical basis. Five out of six studies showed improvement on a social participation, -isolation or loneliness outcome. Type of intervention included volunteering-, educational- and physical activities. In three studies active participation of the participant was required, these interventions were not more effective than other interventions.

Conclusion: Some interventions improved the included social determinants of health in community dwelling elderly ethnic minorities. Investment in further development and implementation of these interventions may help to improve social determinants of health in these populations. It is necessary to evaluate these interventions in the European setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1054
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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