Community environments have the potential to alleviate loneliness and social isolation as they offer opportunity for sociality and to expand personal social network connections. Implementing a social network intervention in community environments to connect people to who are at risk of loneliness or social isolation could help alleviate these concerns. However, implementing interventions in community environments is made difficult by the interplay between the community context and intervention. Thus, to support implementation a detailed understanding of the types of community contexts is required. To examine the optimal factors that promote the implementation of a social network designed to alleviate loneliness and social isolation intervention in the community observations, interviews and documentary analysis were conducted. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research and a typology of community contexts were used to inform the data analysis and interpret the findings. Key factors were found to affect the implementation of the intervention in the different community contexts. These inter-related factors operated across three domains. Service User Needs affected intervention take up as its suitability varied. The stability of the workforce and nature of everyday work also impacted on implementation. Finally, the fluctuating capacity of organisations and the organisational culture were also influential. No single community environment was found to have all of the optimal factors required for implementation and sustainably. The UK policy agenda of austerity had negatively affected community environments’ capacity to deliver such intervention through increasing service user needs and reducing available resources.
Trial registration: ISRCTN19193075.