Social connection among young people with disabilities and long-term health conditions

We would like to understand more about the experiences of people aged 16-24 with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

What is this research about? 

We would like to understand more about the experiences of people aged 16-24 with disabilities or long-term health conditions. We would like to explore their experiences of loneliness and disconnection, experiences of making friends and building relationships, as well as the perspectives of professionals who work with young disabled people.   

Why is this research important?

Young people and those living with a disability or long-term health condition are more likely to experience loneliness and other similar feelings regularly. However, there are evidence gaps in how and why young disabled people experience loneliness, and what can be done to reduce it.

This research will help to fill this evidence gap and contribute to work across government aiming to ensure that disabled young people have the resources and relationships that support them in life.

Who is doing this study? 

The government has asked the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and RSM UK Consulting (RSM) to carry out this study, which will involve speaking to professional stakeholders and young people with disabilities or long-term health conditions and writing up findings in a report. 

Why have I been invited to take part?

You will have been invited to take part for one of two reasons:

  • Stakeholder interviews: You have been asked to take part in an interview in your professional capacity, due to your experience working with young disabled people.
  • Conversations with young people with disabilities and long-term health conditions: You have been asked to take part in a conversation so we can understand more about your personal experience of building social connections.

What will taking part involve? 

There are two different elements to this research that you may be involved in:

  1. Stakeholder interviews

The interview will be with a researcher from RSM UK Consulting. The interview will take place over the phone or video (via Microsoft Teams) for up to 60 minutes.

During the interview you will be asked about:

  • Causes of loneliness among young disabled people, including barriers to building social connections;
  • Impacts of loneliness;
  • Experiences of supporting young disabled people build and maintain quality social connections and how this can be further enabled in the future.

2. Conversations with young people with disabilities and long-term health conditions

Conversations will take place with a NatCen or RSM researcher. Depending on your preference, conversations will take place over the phone, by video (via Microsoft Teams) or in-person and will last around 45 to 60 minutes. 

During the conversation, we will discuss your experience of building social connections or making friends – including what makes this more difficult and what makes this easier.

To say thank you, we will send you a £50 Love2Shop high street voucher after your interview.

Do I have to take part?

No. Taking part is completely voluntary. You can choose which questions you answer. You do not have to answer any questions you do not want to. You can leave the conversation at any time without giving a reason.

What will happen to any information I give?

We will ask you if we can audio record the conversation. The recording will be typed up, stored safely, and then deleted 12 months after the project has ended.

The only people who will know that you have taken part or what you have said are people involved in the research. This includes the NatCen/RSM research team and organisations helping us, which include:

  • McGowan transcriptions will be writing up the interviews – they will know what you have said in your interview but will not have access to any of your personal data (such as your name or contact details) outside of what is discussed in the interview.
  • A recruitment agency called Criteria are helping to recruit participants – they will have access to any information that you provide to them, but they will not know what you have said in the interview. 

DCMS will not know which individuals taken part. However, as the number of stakeholders involved in the project is small, it is possible that DCMS will know which organisations have taken part.

We never pass on your details to other organisations for any other reason. The only exception is if you tell us that you or someone else is at immediate risk of harm. 

We will use information from our conversation to write a report for DCMS that will be published online at Your name will not be in our report; however we may use quotes from you – this means using the exact words you have used in our conversation. Quotes would be written so that you cannot be identified. After our conversation, we will ask if there is anything that you do not want us to include in our report.

For more information on how NatCen will handle your personal information, please refer to the privacy notice.

Organisations that can provide support

If you have found anything relating to this research upsetting, these organisations are able to provide further information and support.

Contact us

If you have any questions about NatCen or about this study, please contact the research team at: