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The main aim of this study was to summarize the most recent high-quality evidence for changes in loneliness in association with the COVID-19 pandemic in a systematic and rigorous way. To figure out whether the pandemic actually increased loneliness, the researchers reviewed 34 studies from four continents—primarily in North America and Europe—involving more than 200,000 total participants. All of the data came from long-term studies that measured participants’ levels of loneliness before the onset of the pandemic and again during the pandemic. The researchers found a small but significant increase in loneliness during the pandemic—about a 5 percent increase in the prevalence of loneliness across the individual studies, on average. However, not all groups experienced that increase.
"Given the small effect sizes, dire warnings about a ‘loneliness pandemic’ may be overblown. However, as loneliness constitutes a risk for premature mortality and mental and physical health, it should be closely monitored. We think that loneliness should be made a priority in large-scale research projects aimed at investigating the health outcomes of the pandemic.” say the authors.
To read the complete research paper, please click the linked file.