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Using Technology the Right Way to Support Social Connectedness for Older People in the Era of COVID-19

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Loneliness and Social Isolation: A Multi-Country Study

Institute of Public Health, D08 NH90 Dublin, Ireland
The Bamford Centre, Ulster University, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK
The Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin, D02 PN40 Dublin, Ireland
School of Nursing/School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Centre for Innovative Ageing, School of Health and Social Care, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK
School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA
Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA
College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
Research Center for Equitable Development (EQUIDE), Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City 01219, Mexico
Division of Geriatrics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA
Institute of Mental Health Sciences, School of Health Sciences, Ulster University, Newtownabbey BT37 0QB, UK
School of Social Work, Faculty of Education and Professional Studies, Nipissing University, North Bay, ON P1B 8L7, Canada
Department of Psychology, Maynooth University, W23 F2K8 Kildare, Ireland
Department of Social Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland
College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Catherine Hennessy and Elaine Douglas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 9982;
Received: 31 July 2021 / Revised: 14 September 2021 / Accepted: 14 September 2021 / Published: 23 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Well-Being of Older People in an Era of COVID-19)
The COVID-19 global pandemic and subsequent public health social measures have challenged our social and economic life, with increasing concerns around potentially rising levels of social isolation and loneliness. This paper is based on cross-sectional online survey data (available in 10 languages, from 2 June to 16 November 2020) with 20,398 respondents from 101 different countries. It aims to help increase our understanding of the global risk factors that are associated with social isolation and loneliness, irrespective of culture or country, to support evidence-based policy, services and public health interventions. We found the prevalence of severe loneliness was 21% during COVID-19 with 6% retrospectively reporting severe loneliness prior to the pandemic. A fifth were defined as isolated based on their usual connections, with 13% reporting a substantial increase in isolation during COVID-19. Personal finances and mental health were overarching and consistently cross-cutting predictors of loneliness and social isolation, both before and during the pandemic. With the likelihood of future waves of COVID-19 and related restrictions, it must be a public health priority to address the root causes of loneliness and social isolation and, in particular, address the needs of specific groups such as carers or those living alone. View Full-Text
Keywords: loneliness; social isolation; public health; COVID-19; risk factors loneliness; social isolation; public health; COVID-19; risk factors
MDPI and ACS Style

O’Sullivan, R.; Burns, A.; Leavey, G.; Leroi, I.; Burholt, V.; Lubben, J.; Holt-Lunstad, J.; Victor, C.; Lawlor, B.; Vilar-Compte, M.; Perissinotto, C.M.; Tully, M.A.; Sullivan, M.P.; Rosato, M.; Power, J.M.; Tiilikainen, E.; Prohaska, T.R. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Loneliness and Social Isolation: A Multi-Country Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 9982.

AMA Style

O’Sullivan R, Burns A, Leavey G, Leroi I, Burholt V, Lubben J, Holt-Lunstad J, Victor C, Lawlor B, Vilar-Compte M, Perissinotto CM, Tully MA, Sullivan MP, Rosato M, Power JM, Tiilikainen E, Prohaska TR. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Loneliness and Social Isolation: A Multi-Country Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(19):9982.

Chicago/Turabian Style

O’Sullivan, Roger, Annette Burns, Gerard Leavey, Iracema Leroi, Vanessa Burholt, James Lubben, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Christina Victor, Brian Lawlor, Mireya Vilar-Compte, Carla M. Perissinotto, Mark A. Tully, Mary Pat Sullivan, Michael Rosato, Joanna McHugh Power, Elisa Tiilikainen, and Thomas R. Prohaska. 2021. "Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Loneliness and Social Isolation: A Multi-Country Study" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 19: 9982.

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