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Loneliness during lockdown: An epidemic within the covid-19 pandemic

Juan Manuel García-González and Inmaculada Montero, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, UPO; Rafael Grande, Universidad de Málaga; Dolores Puga, CSIC
Project selected in the Call to support research projects on the social impact of covid-19

In Spain, the lockdown induced by the covid-19 pandemic confined the population to their homes from 14 March to 21 June 2020. This lockdown brought with it a number of different impacts for citizens: among other aspects, there was an increase in loneliness, a public health problem that to a large affects the older population. Knowing how lockdown affects loneliness is fundamental for taking preventive measures. It also helps in designing interventions for reducing the adverse consequences of loneliness for people’s health and their family and social relationships. The research on which this article is based analysed changes in the feeling of loneliness in the population between February and April 2020. To this end, a survey was conducted on a group of 750 people aged over 55 living in Andalusia. This survey was conducted in two stages, coinciding with the months mentioned. The main conclusion drawn from the study is that 56% of the population surveyed reported that they felt lonely during lockdown, which represents an increase over the data obtained before lockdown.
Key points
  • 1
       The feeling of loneliness in the population over 55 in Andalusia rose from 47% to 56% during the lockdown imposed due to the covid-19 pandemic.
  • 2
       Moderate loneliness was exacerbated by lockdown, whereas severe loneliness diminished among the population.
  • 3
       The feeling of loneliness among Andalusian women aged over 55 reached 62% with the lockdown measures taken; in men, the incidence of this feeling was 50%.
  • 4
       Loneliness increased mainly among people under the age of 80. In the population over this age, with high levels of loneliness before lockdown, this situation did not lead to an increase in the feeling of loneliness.
  • 5
       A higher level of education is, in general, a protective factor against loneliness. However, during lockdown, the exacerbation of the feeling of loneliness among the Andalusian population was similar for all educational levels.
  • 6
       Individuals with poorer health status, limitations in their habitual activities and depression already displayed higher levels of loneliness before the pandemic, and this feeling remained the same during lockdown. In the rest of the groups loneliness increased, in comparison with their previous situation.
  • 7
       Emotional loneliness – meaning a lack of trusting relationships – increased notably during lockdown, whereas social loneliness – meaning a lack of relations with one’s social group – decreased considerably.
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