Pandemic has increased loneliness more for women than men, research finds

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Researchers found a significant increase in loneliness and a decrease in feelings of friendship during the pandemic, with disproportionate negative effects among women and those with poorer health, according to a study published Feb. 20 in Social Science & Medicine.

Researchers with Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic compared survey results from 1,996 patients who completed a questionnaire in February 2018 and again during the stay-at-home orders across much of the U.S. in May 2020. The questions were split into six areas of support: emotional, logistical, friendship, loneliness, perceived rejection and perceived hostility.  

Women reported higher levels of loneliness during the pandemic compared to men. The largest change in areas of support was a decrease in friendships, followed by an increase in loneliness.

Additionally, individuals with more health problems may experience the greatest negative effect on emotional support during significant social change, said Jon Ebbert, MD, an internal medicine physician and senior author of the study. 

However, researchers did note an increase in emotional and logistical support, and a decrease in perceived hostility. 

 

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