Social Isolation Nursing Diagnosis & Care Plan

Social isolation is a sense of being alone or secluded may be intentional or unintentional in its manifestation. According to the World Health Organization, social isolation is becoming a significant public health and policy concern. Having little or no contact with people or society at large is a sign of being socially isolated.

However, it is frequently inadvertent, resulting in feelings of loneliness and depression, especially for those who are impacted by a number of risk factors (e.g., terminal illness).

Being socially isolated for an extended period can be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health. It has been linked to cognitive impairment, reduced immunity, and an increased risk of heart disease. And because social isolation may be an indicator of illness, it is critical to address its causes and how to combat them.

Causes of Social Isolation

An underlying mental health issue such as depression or another mood illness can cause social isolation. Social isolation can also be caused by:

  • Symptoms of psychological or physical illness
  • Chronic ailments
  • Aging
  • Tay Sachs disease  (TSD)
  • Wilson’s Syndrome
  • Environmental factors (e.g., poverty)

Related Risk Factors to Social Isolation

  • Fear of losing personal assets
  • A decline in overall well-being
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Negative sexual perception of social behavior
  • Lack of finances

Signs and Symptoms of Social Isolation

Subjective data:

  • Problems starting a discussion
  • Expression of insecurity and self-doubt
  • Stated desire to spend time alone
  • Disinterest in participating in social situations

Objective data:

  • An uninspiring or drab impression
  • Lack of encouragement
  • Lack of support systems
  • Social interaction deficits (e.g., speech impairment)

Diagnosis of Social Isolation

  • Observed signs of social withdrawal – in most cases, if a person’s behavior deviates significantly from the norm, it’s a likely indicator of a person’s social isolation.
  • Investigation of the family of origin
  • Assessment of maladaptive behaviors
  • Investigation on health-related issues – pre-existing conditions are frequently the catalysts for individuals to feel socially isolated. As a result, it is critical to investigate various issues, including the patient’s emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
  • Patient interview about other related factors such as environmental factors and stress triggers

Treatments for Social Isolation

  • Socialization as a therapeutic group activity
  • Supportive therapy
  • Counseling
  • Practicing a healthy lifestyle
  • Diagnosis and identification of conditions or illnesses
  • Medications such as anxiolytics and antidepressants

Social Isolation Nursing Diagnosis

Social Isolation Nursing Care Plan 1


Nursing Diagnosis: Social Isolation related to a disruption of cognitive functions, secondary to depression as evidenced by disruptive relationships with family, friends, and coworkers, verbalized distress in social settings, a feeling of seclusion pervades; the individual keeps a low profile and does not make eye contact with others.

Desired Outcomes:

  • The patient will identify and effectively recognize the feelings that lead to a lack of social success.
  • It is expected that the patient will effectively interact with family, friends, and colleagues.

Nursing Interventions for Social Isolation

Reduce the amount of concentration of the patient by offering activities that don’t necessitate a high level of focus, such as playing simple board games and drawing.  Depression impairs concentration and memory. For an activity in which there is no right or wrong way to do it, the patient is less prone to self-criticize.

Do one-on-one activities with the patient while they are at their lowest ebb, weakest point, or depressed condition.        While lowering anxiety levels, this method maximizes the opportunity or likelihood for social contact, which is needed in patients suffering from depression and isolation tendencies.

Encourage and exercise with the patient in gross functional activities that need just a small amount of concentration, such as walking.         Such exercises will aid in the relief of tensions and may even have the added benefit of improving one’s mood at the same time.

Engage the patient in a more social setting or have him/her more involved with other people. By meeting one person, then the next, and so on, progressively introduce the patient to others.  Interaction with others diverts the patient’s attention from their negative thoughts.

Encourage patient participation in group activities such as art therapy, dance therapy, and group talks.   Through social engagement, isolation can be reduced. Boosting one’s self-esteem can be done through expressing genuine concern for others.

Make referrals and provide information to support organizations for the patient and their families.  Patients and families might benefit greatly from hearing from those who have been in the same situation as them.

Social Isolation Nursing Care Plan 2


Nursing Diagnosis: Social isolation related to a history of social difficulties, secondary to anxiety disorder, as evidenced by aloofness, disinterested in engaging in conversation with others, distraughtness at being rejected, emphasis or preoccupation on one’s own thoughts and feelings, and apprehension in the public

Desired Outcomes:

  • The patient will happily and eagerly participate in therapy practices with a trusted friend or family member present.
  • The patient will freely participate in group activities with other clients and personnel.

Nursing Interventions for Social Isolation

Demonstrate unwavering supportive behavior.  To show conviction in the patient’s worthiness as a person or individual.

Maintain a kind and welcoming demeanor by establishing frequent, quick encounters.  Possessing a welcoming demeanor can raise the patient’s self-esteem and inspire confidence in others.

Maintain integrity, keep all commitments, and be truthful with the patient.  Relationships are built on the foundation of honesty and trustworthiness.

Administer sedatives as prescribed and keep an eye out for any negative side effects.  Anti-anxiety medications for a short period of time are effective for the vast majority of people.

Be careful when it comes to physical contact. Ample space and an exit for the client should be provided if he/she becomes anxious.  As a result of anxiety, someone experiencing panic-level agitation may interpret contact as a threat.

Assist the patient by being there for him/her during any group activities that he/she finds challenging or frightening.  In the company of a trustworthy individual, the patient feels safe and secure.

If there are noticeable signs that the patient is becoming anxious, talk to him/her about the indications of anxiety and ways to break or counteract the cycle, such as suggesting breathing exercises, relaxation, and even meditation.   In times of increased worry and anxiety, maladaptive behaviors are more likely to be observed.

Recognize and encourage the patient’s willingness to socialize with others by expressing appreciation and providing praise.  Positive reinforcement helps the patient feel better about himself/herself and motivates him/her to repeat appropriate behavior.

Social Isolation Nursing Care Plan 3


Nursing Diagnosis: Social Isolation related to changes in health, appearance, or mental state, secondary to AIDS/HIV, as evidenced by an openly stated, imposed sense of loneliness or a sense of rejection from others and absence of a strong social support system.

Desired Outcomes:

  • The patient will take advantage of available resources to get help.
  • Depending on the patient’s capacity and desire, he/she will effectively participate in activities and programs.

Nursing Interventions for Social Isolation

Obtain information about the patient’s understanding and view of the situation.        Many people experience social isolation due to their anxieties and fear of being rejected by others.

When practicable, reduce or avoid using gowns, gloves, and mask whenever possible, especially when speaking with the patient.   Positive social contact can help patients feel more confident and less likely to engage in antisocial conduct and isolation.

Assist the patient and their loved ones in understanding isolation concerns and procedures.  There is no routine requirement for a person diagnosed with AIDS to wear gloves or gowns unless they are likely to come into touch with bodily fluids. These barriers can lead to feelings of mental and physical isolation if they are used improperly. To ensure that patients understand the necessity of precautions and have a sense of ownership over their care, healthcare providers often use explanations to help them feel more involved in the process.

Initiate contact with the patient’s existing support system  Patients who receive support from a support person (e.g., family, extended relatives, significant others, etc.) are less likely to experience feelings of isolation and rejection. Fear and lack of knowledge or understanding (AIDS hysteria) may prevent patients from receiving the assistance they need to cope with a life-threatening illness and its accompanying grieving.

While providing care, spend time conversing with the patient. Assist by providing a safe space for expression. Ensure that patients are treated with respect and dignity.  Patients with HIV/AIDS may feel physically and socially isolated due to their medical condition. It is critical to have regular open communication with HIV patients to support their mental and emotional well-being.

With the help of the patient, devise a course of action, which includes the following: Examine the available resources and encourage healthy habits. Help the patient find a solution to short-term or imposed seclusion by providing problem-solving assistance.  Patients need to have a strategy and plan because it gives them a sense of purpose and direction in their life.

Social Isolation Nursing Care Plan 4

Alzheimer’s disease

Nursing Diagnosis: Social Isolation related to advancing stages of Alzheimer’s disease, secondary to Alzheimer’s disease as evidenced by being reserved, taciturn, unconversational, aggressive conduct, disturbed sleep pattern, deteriorated mental capacity, and isolation from social situations.

Desired Outcomes:

  • The patient will be able to communicate effectively with others, despite the restrictions of the disease process.
  • The patients’ families will learn more about their condition to better manage their predicament.

Nursing Interventions for Social Isolation

Assess the patient’s thoughts and feelings concerning their behavioral difficulties.  Inquire with the patient about their negative thoughts about themselves, their capacity to communicate, anxiousness, depression, and feelings of helplessness, among other things. As a result, this will help determine the level of loneliness and isolation and the factors contributing to it.

Inspire the patient’s interaction with others.  Alzheimer’s disease patients may find socializing reassuring. Encourage relatives and friends to pay a visit, telephone, or write to the patient to express their support.

Recommend pet therapy to the patient.  Small pets engage the senses, foster mobility, and facilitate social contact and nonverbal communication, making them ideal companions for patients and even children.

Adapt recreational activities to suit the abilities of the patient.   In order to improve their psychosocial functioning, people with Alzheimer’s disease are advised to take part in simple activities. Activities like gardening or walking, which encourage physical activity and social connection, positively impact health and well-being. Taking care of a pet can also be a great source of comfort and stimulation and a great way to release pent-up energy.

Educate the patient and his/her family about the healing and therapeutic effects of gardening or horticultural pursuits.   People who work in the garden can gain therapeutic benefits from the experience of tending to and nurturing plants.

Determine the existence of potential support systems and support networks as well as the patient’s ability to join in social events.  There are numerous community resources available to help people and their families who are going through the various phases of Alzheimer’s disease.

Social Isolation Nursing Care Plan 5


Nursing Diagnosis: Social Isolation related to dissatisfaction with the perception of oneself, secondary to obesity, as evidenced by expressed apprehension or fear about social situations and inability to engage in social activities.

Desired Outcome: The patient will take an active role in making adjustments to their social interactions and relationships.

Nursing Interventions for Social Isolation

Assist the patient in expressing his or her thoughts and feelings about the situation.  Facilitates the understanding of root causes of interpersonal communication challenges (e.g., insecurity about their sexuality may make them feel neglected and unwanted).

Evaluate the patient’s coping techniques and escape mechanisms.  The patient’s defense systems may exacerbate their sense of loneliness and social isolation.

Examine the patterns of interaction and social conduct that exist within the family.  Social contact is primarily learned in the context of one’s own family. Actions for change might be taken when a pattern is determined as insufficient or faulty.

Ask the patient to identify actions that give them distress.  Identifies specific issues of concern and recommends measures that could be used to improve the situation.

Talking negatively about oneself and having a low opinion of oneself (e.g., Nobody wants to hang out with an obese person, who would be interested in having a conversation with me?) should be brought up in the conversation.  Maintaining strong social relationships is hampered when the patient is filled with self-doubt or negative thoughts.

Motivate the patient to engage in self-talk that is constructive and optimistic. Use remarks like “I can enjoy social events without being influenced by what others think or say” or “I’m fine.”  Positive tactics help people feel more comfortable while also supporting their efforts to transform their lives for the better.

Nursing References

Ackley, B. J., Ladwig, G. B., Makic, M. B., Martinez-Kratz, M. R., & Zanotti, M. (2020). Nursing diagnoses handbook: An evidence-based guide to planning care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.  Buy on Amazon

Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2017). Nursing care plans: Diagnoses, interventions, & outcomes. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. Buy on Amazon

Ignatavicius, D. D., Workman, M. L., Rebar, C. R., & Heimgartner, N. M. (2018). Medical-surgical nursing: Concepts for interprofessional collaborative care. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.  Buy on Amazon

Silvestri, L. A. (2020). Saunders comprehensive review for the NCLEX-RN examination. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.  Buy on Amazon


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The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

This information is intended to be nursing education and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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Anna Curran. RN, BSN, PHN

Anna Curran. RN-BC, BSN, PHN, CMSRN I am a Critical Care ER nurse. I have been in this field for over 30 years. I also began teaching BSN and LVN students and found that by writing additional study guides helped their knowledge base, especially when it was time to take the NCLEX examinations.

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