This is the protocol for a Campbell systematic review. The objectives are as follows: identify, appraise and bring together the evidence on the use of intergenerational practice.
1.1.1 The problem, condition or issue
Opportunities for social connection between generations in the United Kingdom have diminished over the last few decades because of changes in the way that we live and work (Kingman, 2016; United for all Ages, 2017). Housing and economic trends have seen younger people move to live in city centres whilst the older generation live in towns and rural areas. A report published by the Intergenerational Foundation in 2016 Kingman, 2016 suggests that in the 25 biggest cities within the United Kingdom only 5% of people aged over 65 live in the same neighbourhood as someone under the age of 18. Furthermore, even when people from different age groups do live in the same area, the decline in spaces such as libraries, youth clubs and community centres mean that there are fewer opportunities to meet and mix socially with other generations outside our own families. Increased working hours, improved technology, changes in family patterns, relationship breakdowns within families and migration are also believed to be contributory factors to generation segregation (Generations Working Together, 2019). There are many potential economic, social and political impacts of generations living separate and parallel lives, for example, higher health and social care costs, an undermining of trust between generations (Brown & Henkin, 2014; Jones, 2011; Laurence, 2016; Vitman et al., 2013), reduced social capital (Laurence, 2016), a reliance on the media to form understanding of others’ viewpoints (Edström, 2018; Vasil & Wass, 1993) and higher levels of anxiety and loneliness. Loneliness is a huge issue in the United Kingdom and one that is shared by both the young and the old. In the Office for National Statistics Community Life Survey, 2016 to 2017 (ONS, 2021), 5% of adults in the United Kingdom felt lonely often or always and compared with all other age groups except the 25–34 years group. Those aged 16–24 were also significantly more likely to report feeling lonely often or always.
1.1.2 The intervention
Intergenerational programmes and activities can take many formats and are delivered in many settings. Many are provided by third sector organisations. Although evidence suggests that intergenerational activity can have a positive impact on participants (e.g., to reduce loneliness and exclusion (for both older people and children and young people), improve mental health, increase mutual understanding and tackle important issues such as ageism, housing and care), commissioning decisions are complex due to the apparent wealth of options available.
Thompson-Coon, J., Campbell, F., Sutton, A., Whear, R., Rogers, M., Barlow, J., Carter, E. R., Sharpe, R., Cohen, S., & Wolstenholme, L. (2022). PROTOCOL: Intergenerational interventions and their effect on social and mental wellbeing of both children and older people—A mapping review and evidence and gap map. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 18, e1235.