Social interaction is critical to wellbeing, yet nursing home (NH) residents typically have low rates of social engagement. This study asked NH residents about factors that keep them from fulfilling their preferences for social contact. NH residents (n = 255) were interviewed using the PELI twice, 3 months apart. The study found that almost half of social preferences were associated with barriers, and that preference importance shifted based on a person’s feelings about the quality of social interactions and level of interest in the activity. Providers can use study insights to develop more satisfying social opportunities for residents.

Publication available online, subscription may be required.


The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation, National Institute of Nursing Research (R21NR011334)


Abbott, K. M., Bangerter, L. R., Humes, S., Klumpp, R., & VanHaitsma, K. (2018). “It’s important, but…”: Perceived barriers and situational dependencies to social contact preferences of nursing home residents. The Gerontologist, 58(6), 1126-1135. doi:10.1093/geront/gnx109

Team Members as Authors

Members of the the PELI Team who contributed to this publication.

Kimberly VanHaitsma, Ph.D., FGSA

Avatar for Dennis Cheatham

Dennis Cheatham

Communication Director

Professor, Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing
Director, Program for Person-Centered Living Systems of Care

Kimberly VanHaitsma, Ph.D., FGSA