Talking on the phone really does help...


Just published in JAMA Psychiatry, Maninder K. Kahlon and colleagues conducted a randomized clinical trial to see if empathetic conversations by telephone could reduce loneliness, depression, and anxiety in at-risk older adults. The answer? A resounding yes.

Volunteers with two hours of training simply called a roster of older adults approximately 2-5 times a week to ask how they were - which improved general mental health of the older adults within four weeks.

These findings echo many of our Coalition members' work to initiate contact and foster connection in our communities.

  • Both patients and staff have had an overwhelmingly positive response to Baystate Health’s proactive approach to patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses are calling to check in on thousands of patients who are older or who have health conditions to see how they are doing. They placed calls to more than 5,000 patients in three weeks.
  • Care Dimensions is using the power of technology to connect with patients. After learning that some of their patients did not have easy ways to connect with their hospice clinical teams, they provided more than 55 smartphones and 6 tablets to patients in home hospice and skilled nursing facilities.
  • Coalition co-chair Maureen Bisognano led an effort called “Compassionate Conversations,” which is also focused on how to get donated tablets and phones to hospitals and nursing homes, so patients and hospital volunteers who are can’t go to these institutions don’t feel socially isolated.
  • Recognizing that balancing safety, connection, and well-being at places of care has been evolving over the last year, the Coalition published guidelines for how we think about visitors and how essential they are to care for a patient or resident, especially for those with serious illnesses.

Read the article in JAMA Psychiatry