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Article

Increase in Social Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Association with Mental Health: Findings from the JACSIS 2020 Study

1
Research Team for Social Participation and Community Health, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo 173-0015, Japan
2
Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Translational Medical Center, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Tokyo 187-8551, Japan
3
Cancer Control Center, Osaka International Cancer Institute, Osaka 541-8567, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8238; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168238
Received: 29 June 2021 / Revised: 31 July 2021 / Accepted: 2 August 2021 / Published: 4 August 2021
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is assumed to have caused an increase in the number of socially isolated people. However, the prevalence of social isolation during the pandemic has not been well studied, particularly among Asian populations. This study investigated changes in the prevalence of social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and examined its association with mental health among the general Japanese population. Data were obtained from a large-scale, web-based nationwide survey conducted from August to September 2020 (n = 28,000; aged 15–79 years). Social isolation was defined as less frequent contact with people other than co-residing family members. We assessed the participants’ frequency of contact in January (before the pandemic) and August 2020 (during the pandemic). Mental health outcomes included psychological distress, suicidal ideation, loneliness, and fear of COVID-19. We analyzed the data of 25,482 respondents. The weighted prevalence (95% confidence interval) of social isolation was 21.2% (20.7–21.7%) and 27.9% (27.3–28.4%) before and during the pandemic, respectively. The prevalence of social isolation increased by 6.7 (6.3–7.0) percentage points during the pandemic. Older people and men had the greatest increase in the prevalence of social isolation. People who became socially isolated during the pandemic had greater loneliness and fear of COVID-19 than those who were consistently not socially isolated since before the pandemic. This study suggested that social isolation had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan. Our findings highlight the importance of developing immediate measures against social isolation to maintain good mental health. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; mental health; Japan; prevalence; social isolation COVID-19; mental health; Japan; prevalence; social isolation
MDPI and ACS Style

Murayama, H.; Okubo, R.; Tabuchi, T. Increase in Social Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Association with Mental Health: Findings from the JACSIS 2020 Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8238. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168238

AMA Style

Murayama H, Okubo R, Tabuchi T. Increase in Social Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Association with Mental Health: Findings from the JACSIS 2020 Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(16):8238. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168238

Chicago/Turabian Style

Murayama, Hiroshi, Ryo Okubo, and Takahiro Tabuchi. 2021. "Increase in Social Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Association with Mental Health: Findings from the JACSIS 2020 Study" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 16: 8238. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168238

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