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The Trajectory of Loneliness in Response to COVID-19

The Trajectory of Loneliness in Response to COVID-19 Social distancing and “stay-at-home” orders are essential to contain the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), but there is concern that these measures will increase feelings of loneliness, particularly in vulnerable groups. The present study examined change in loneliness in response to the social restriction measures taken to control the coronavirus spread. A nationwide sample of American adults (N = 1,545; 45% women; ages 18 to 98, M = 53.68, SD = 15.63) was assessed on three occasions: in late January/early February 2020 (before the outbreak), in late March (during the President’s initial “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign), and in late April (during the “stay-at-home” policies of most states). Contrary to expectations, there were no significant mean-level changes in loneliness across the three assessments (d = .04, p > .05). In fact, respondents perceived increased support from others over the follow-up period (d = .19, p < .01). Older adults reported less loneliness overall compared to younger age groups but had an increase in loneliness during the acute phase of the outbreak (d = .14, p < .05). Their loneliness, however, leveled off after the issuance of stay-at-home orders. Individuals living alone and those with at least one chronic condition reported feeling lonelier at baseline but did not increase in loneliness during the implementation of social distancing measures. Despite some detrimental impact on vulnerable individuals, in the present sample, there was no large increase in loneliness but remarkable resilience in response to COVID-19. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Psychologist American Psychological Association

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References (62)

Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
© 2020 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0003-066x
eISSN
1935-990X
DOI
10.1037/amp0000690
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Social distancing and “stay-at-home” orders are essential to contain the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), but there is concern that these measures will increase feelings of loneliness, particularly in vulnerable groups. The present study examined change in loneliness in response to the social restriction measures taken to control the coronavirus spread. A nationwide sample of American adults (N = 1,545; 45% women; ages 18 to 98, M = 53.68, SD = 15.63) was assessed on three occasions: in late January/early February 2020 (before the outbreak), in late March (during the President’s initial “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign), and in late April (during the “stay-at-home” policies of most states). Contrary to expectations, there were no significant mean-level changes in loneliness across the three assessments (d = .04, p > .05). In fact, respondents perceived increased support from others over the follow-up period (d = .19, p < .01). Older adults reported less loneliness overall compared to younger age groups but had an increase in loneliness during the acute phase of the outbreak (d = .14, p < .05). Their loneliness, however, leveled off after the issuance of stay-at-home orders. Individuals living alone and those with at least one chronic condition reported feeling lonelier at baseline but did not increase in loneliness during the implementation of social distancing measures. Despite some detrimental impact on vulnerable individuals, in the present sample, there was no large increase in loneliness but remarkable resilience in response to COVID-19.

Journal

American PsychologistAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Oct 22, 2020

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