A common elements approach to the development of a modular cognitive behavioral theory for chronic loneliness.

Publication date: Mar 01, 2020

Loneliness is a transdiagnostic clinical phenomenon that can significantly impact mental health and well-being across the lifespan.

The aim was to combine existing theory and evidence-based treatment approaches to propose a comprehensive transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral analysis of the maintenance of chronic loneliness relevant across disorders, age groups, and populations.

A distillation and matching model-framework approach was taken to identify interventions designed to reduce loneliness. Eligible studies were coded for the presence of practice elements. The findings were combined with an analysis of the broader literature on loneliness and psychopathology to derive a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral analysis of the maintenance of loneliness over time across populations.

The search yielded 11 studies containing 14 practice elements with relative frequencies ranging from 7% to 64%. The identified practice elements target putative mechanisms such as negative interpersonal appraisals, anxiety, and social skills deficits. Counterproductive behavior and cognitive processes such as self-focused attention were identified as maintenance factors based on the broader literature. A modular transdiagnostic model with multiple pathways is proposed to be consistent with the existing theoretical and treatment literature.

Combining the distillation and matching model framework with existing theory from the literature is a novel approach for developing a model of factors that maintain loneliness over time. The model has varying treatment implications for different populations including children with autism spectrum disorders and bereaved older adults. Targeting transdiagnostic processes has the potential to transform interventions for loneliness across a range of formats and settings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

K”all, A., Shafran, R., Lindegaard, T., Bennett, S., Cooper, Z., Coughtrey, A., and Andersson, G. A common elements approach to the development of a modular cognitive behavioral theory for chronic loneliness. 15354. 2020 J Consult Clin Psychol (88):3.

Concepts Keywords
Anxiety Autism spectrum disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorders Articles
Cognitive Emotions
Distillation Loneliness
Psychopathology Philosophy of love
PsycINFO Chronic condition
Social Skills Human behavior


Type Source Name
disease MESH development
disease MESH loneliness
disease MESH anxiety
disease MESH autism spectrum disorders

Original Article

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