The effect of COVID-19 on loneliness in the elderly. An empirical comparison of pre-and peri-pandemic loneliness in community-dwelling elderly

Heidinger, Theresa and Richter, Lukas ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3304-3491 (2020) The effect of COVID-19 on loneliness in the elderly. An empirical comparison of pre-and peri-pandemic loneliness in community-dwelling elderly. Frontiers in Psychology. pp. 1-5. ISSN 1664-1078

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Abstract

Old-age loneliness is a global problem with many members of the scientific community suspecting increased loneliness in the elderly population during COVID-19 and the associated safety measures. Although hypothesized, a direct comparison of loneliness before and during the pandemic is hard to achieve without a survey of loneliness prior to the pandemic. This study provides a direct comparison of reported loneliness before and during the pandemic using 1:1 propensity score matching (PSM) on a pre- and a peri-pandemic sample of elderly (60C years) individuals from Lower Austria, a county of Austria (Europe). Differences on a loneliness index computed from the short De Jong Gierveld scale were found to be significant, evidencing that loneliness in the elderly population had in fact risen slightly during the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated safety measures. Although the reported loneliness remained rather low, this result illustrated the effect of the “new normal” under COVID-19. As loneliness is a risk factor for physical and mental illness, this result is important in planning the future handling of the pandemic, as safety measures seem to have a negative impact on loneliness. This work confirms the anticipated increase in loneliness in the elderly population during COVID-19.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This research was conducted by the Division of Gerontology and Health Division of the Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences and was partly funded by the province of Lower Austria. The datasets presented in this article are not readily available because two datasets are used for statistical analysis of which one sets is not authorized for distribution. Requests to access the datasets should be directed to theresa.heidinger@kl.ac.at.
Keywords: loneliness, elderly, Covid-19, propensity score matching, health and well-being, comparative analysis
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Soziologie u Empirische Sozialforschung
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2020 09:32
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 09:32
Related URLs:
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/96495/
URI: https://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/7761

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