Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
There has been an increasing number of older Chinese immigrants in Canada, just as in other popular immigration destination countries such as the US, Australia, and New Zealand. They are at greater risk of social isolation and loneliness due to factors such as cultural barriers and adaptation difficulties. The aim of this study is to find out whether a peer-based intervention is effective at reducing older Chinese immigrants' social isolation and improving their psychosocial well-being.
Who can participate?
People aged 65 years or older, who are independent and experiencing isolation or lack of social support.
What does the study involve?
Participants were randomly allocated to the intervention or control group. The intervention group participants received two-on-one peer support services through home visits, telephone calls, emotional support, self-care, problem-solving, referrals to mental health and community resources, for an eight week period. The control group received no additional support.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The intervention may increase social support and positive ties among older Chinese immigrants, especially those at greater risk of social isolation, bridge formal and informal support, and strengthen helping skills and knowledge of community helpers in terms of mental health and aging.
Where is the study run from?
Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens Association, Canada
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
August 2018 to December 2018
Who is funding the study?
Institute of Active Aging, Hong Kong
Who is the main contact?
Prof. Daniel W. L. Lai
A randomized controlled trial of a peer-based intervention to reduce older Chinese immigrants' social isolation in Canada
The peer-based intervention is effective in reducing older Chinese immigrants' social isolation and improving their psychosocial well-being.
Approval 06/06/2018, Human Subjects Ethics Application Review System of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Room Z404, 4/F, Block Z, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong; Tel: +852 (0)27664329; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), ref: HSEARS20180528003
Randomized controlled trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Quality of life
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet
Social isolation and loneliness
Each intervention group participant received two-on-one peer support services through home visits, telephone calls, and activities such as emotional support, referrals, help to establish goals such as self-care and social engagement, problem-solving, and mental health and community resources. Peer supporters also shared personal experiences with participants. Intervention group participants were invited to attend two monthly peer support group meetings organized by a trained staff program coordinator with professional training in social work and a Registered Social Worker, where they met with other participants and peer supporters, intended to help them develop strong, supportive, and sustainable social connections with other older people.
Control group participants only received brief telephone calls from the program coordinator over an eight-week period.
The duration of the intervention lasts for 8 weeks. The pre- and the post-test were conducted one week before and after the intervention. A range of psychosocial outcomes including loneliness, social support, barriers to social participation, depressive symptoms, anxiety, life satisfaction, happiness, and purpose in life were measured prior to and after the intervention.
Primary outcome measure
Measured at baseline and week 10:
1. Loneliness (De Jong Loneliness Scale-6)
2. Social support (Lubben Social Network scale (LSNS)
3. Social participation (the Keele Assessment of Participation)
Secondary outcome measures
Measured at baseline and week 10:
1. Life satisfaction (‘In general, how satisfied are you with your life?’)
2. Depression (General Depression Scale, GDS-4)
3. Resilience (two-item Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, CD-RISC 2)
4. Purpose in life (the seven-item subscale of Ryff’s Psychological Well-being Scale)
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Aged 65 years or above
2. Independent in activities of daily living
3. Experiencing social isolation or lack of social support
Target number of participants
Total final enrolment
Participant exclusion criteria
Clinically diagnosed with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens Association
111 Riverfront Ave SW
Institute of Active Aging Internal Research Fund
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
The results of the trial are planned to be published in a gerontological journal in 2020. The study protocol will be available upon request. The statistical analysis plan is stated in the manuscript which is going to be submitted to an academic journal.
IPD sharing statement:
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Available on request
Basic results (scientific)
2020 results in https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32958076/ (added 23/09/2020)