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Publication Detail
Loneliness during lockdown: trajectories and predictors during the COVID-19 pandemic in 35,712 adults in the UK
There are increasing worries that lockdowns and “stay-at-home” orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a rise in loneliness, which is recognised as a major public health concern. But profiles of loneliness during the pandemic and risk factors remain unclear. Data from 35,712 UK adults in the UCL COVID-19 Social Study (a panel study collecting data weekly during the pandemic) were analysed from 21/03/2020-03/05/2020. The sample was well-stratified and weighted to population proportions of gender, age, ethnicity, education and geographical location. Growth mixture modelling was used to identify the latent classes of loneliness growth trajectories and their predictors. Analyses revealed four classes, with the baseline loneliness level ranging from low to high. In the first six weeks of lockdown, loneliness levels increased in the highest loneliness group, decreased in the lowest loneliness group, and stayed relatively constant in the middle two groups. Younger adults (OR = 2.17–6.81), women (OR = 1.59), people with low income (OR = 1.3), the economically inactive (OR = 1.3–2.04) and people with mental health conditions (OR = 5.32) were more likely to be in highest loneliness class relative to the lowest. Further, living with others or in a rural area, and having more close friends or greater social support were protective. Perceived levels of loneliness in the first few weeks of lockdown during COVID-19 were relatively stable in the UK, but for many people these levels were high with no signs of improvement. Results suggest that more efforts are needed to address loneliness, especially amongst young people.
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