The Institute of Public Health, in partnership with Ulster University and Trinity College, have published an article in The Lancet Healthy Longevity focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and reframing loneliness and social isolation.
The article – which can be viewed here – supports policy and research work in this important area for population health.
The authors – Prof Roger O’Sullivan & Dr Annette Burns (Institute of Public Health), Prof Gerry Leavey (Ulster University), and Prof Brian Lawlor (Trinity College Dublin) – write that a public health approach provides a framework to assess the causes and consequences of loneliness and social isolation, and possible interventions.
The article goes on to say that “too often there is little connection between research, evidence and intervention design, and too often the evidence is weak”.
Social distancing restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have also rendered many of the commonly used loneliness and social isolation interventions impractical.
The article says the pandemic means that many more people have gained personal insight into what it means to be socially isolated, lonely, or both.
“There is now a potential opportunity to build on the greater empathy, compassion, caring, and concern that have been shown towards those experiencing loneliness and social isolation, and to set in place policies and structures to address root causes and to support healthy choices,” the authors write.