Methods: The researcher hypothesized that social support would have a moderating effect on the impact of loneliness on depression and anxiety in long-term care nursing home residents. In order to collect data for this cross-sectional survey study, the researcher compiled the items from the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), UCLA Loneliness Scale, and Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS). Some demographic information was collected from the participants as well. Data was collected at a nursing home facility in West Texas. Due to the limited pool of participants, convenience sampling was used to collect participants, and all participants who provided consent were included in the study. Surveys were administered to 12 long-term care residents.
Results: The sample was primarily composed of female (83.3%); Caucasian, non-Hispanic (91.7%); widowed (66.7%); Christian (100%) long-term care nursing home residents. Descriptive statistics of the present study’s participants included depression (5.25), anxiety (3.67), loneliness (44.92), and social support (5.22). Multiple linear regressions revealed that the only variables that showed evidence of having a statistically significant relationship were loneliness and anxiety. When accounting for having local family members, the impact of loneliness on both depression and anxiety were statistically significant. The buffering effect of social support was not found to be statistically significant in this study.
Conclusions and Implications: The insignificant moderating effect of social support could be attributed to the small sample size in this study. Further research is needed in order to explore the moderating effect of social support on the impact of loneliness on depression and anxiety in long-term care residents. The findings suggest that more objective measures of social support, such as having local family members, could have an association with better outcomes for mental health. Therefore, nursing homes should prioritize the minimization of loneliness in long-term care residents to promote better mental health outcomes. Due to the current lack of a regular anxiety screening for long-term care residents, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should include a standardized assessment for anxiety, such as the GAD-7, in order to provide long-term care facilities with a more comprehensive, holistic view of the mental health of their residents.