(CNN)Talking to someone on the phone for 10 minutes multiple times a week -- if you're in control of the conversation -- can decrease loneliness, a new study revealed.
Half of the 240 study participants were selected to receive brief phone calls from volunteers over the course of a month, and they reported feeling 20% less lonely on average, according to the study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Volunteers briefly trained in empathetic communication skills, which involved active listening and asking questions about what their subject was talking about, said lead study author Maninder "Mini" Kahlon, associate professor of population health and executive director of Factor Health at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
The study participants, all clients of Meals on Wheels Central Texas, led the conversations, which allowed them to define the agenda of the calls.
"Sometimes the agenda is just feeling like they have control," Kahlon said.