|Title||Social isolation and loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study of US Adults over 50.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||Forthcoming|
|Authors||Peng, S, Roth, AR|
|Journal||The Journals of Gerontology: Series B|
|Keywords||COVID-19, Digital isolation, Mental Health, Social Relationships, Social Support|
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.