Loneliness before and during the corona pandemic: Who is particularly affected?
Psychological findings from Germany
Social isolation is a risk factor for loneliness and hence for impaired health. It has not yet been extensively investigated which psychological changes the corona pandemic has brought about in Germany.
The aim was to systematically investigate loneliness before and during the corona pandemic in Germany.
The research questions were as follows:
(1) How lonely do people feel before and during the corona pandemic?
(2) How many people feel lonelier since the beginning of the corona pandemic?
(3) How many people are affected in their subjective health due to limitations following the corona pandemic?
In 2019 (before the corona pandemic) 1003 adults were interviewed and in 2020 (during the corona pandemic) 1050 adults were assessed. Both surveys were conducted online and were representative for Germany (51 percent women; age 18 - 90 years).
In all, 10.8 percent versus 26.6 percent of Germans felt lonely on two or more days per week before the corona pandemic versus during the pandemic. Singles, women and younger respondents felt lonely more often in both surveys. Since the corona pandemic, 30.8 percent felt lonelier, especially younger individuals. Furthermore, 18.9 percent reported severely impaired health. Feeling more affected was related to younger age, various fears and more frequent perception of loneliness.
Increasing loneliness and social isolation as well as various fears should be considered in further infection control measures. In general, overcoming loneliness in younger individuals and those living alone should be supported by building adequate coping skills that help to reduce impairments and fears.