Social isolation and loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study of US Adults over 50.

TitleSocial isolation and loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study of US Adults over 50.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationForthcoming
AuthorsPeng, S, Roth, AR
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsCOVID-19, Digital isolation, Mental Health, Social Relationships, Social Support
Abstract

OBJECTIVES: The potential impact of social distancing policies during the COVID-19 pandemic on social isolation and loneliness is of increasing global concern. Although many studies focus primarily on loneliness, patterns of social isolation-particularly physical and digital isolation-are understudied. We examined changes in social isolation, physical isolation, digital isolation, and loneliness in US adults over 50 before and during the lockdown.

METHODS: Two waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a national panel sample of US adults over 50 years old, were used. Fixed-effects regression models were fitted to identify within-person change from 2016 to 2020 to examine the impact of social distancing policies during the pandemic.

RESULTS: There was an increase in physical isolation and social isolation among respondents during the COVID-19 social distancing policies. However, respondents experienced no change in digital isolation or loneliness. The increase in physical isolation was only present for people with high COVID-19 concern whereas people with low concern experienced no change in physical isolation.

DISCUSSION: Despite an increase in physical isolation due to the social distancing policies, US adults aged over 50 stayed connected through digital contact and were resilient in protecting themselves from loneliness.

DOI10.1093/geronb/gbab068
Citation Key11584
PubMed ID33870414