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Alone in the COVID-19 lockdown: An exploratory study

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JournalAnalyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
DateAccepted/In press - 24 May 2022
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 17 Jun 2022
Number of pages24
Early online date17/06/22
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Feelings of isolation have been prevalent worldwide since March 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. This has prompted increased concerns about loneliness and related mental health problems. During the first UK COVID-19 lockdown, 71 participants were asked to share their high and low point stories from lockdown. These were analyzed using thematic analysis to explore how “aloneness” was experienced at this time. A deductive analyses supported three key facets of aloneness reported in the literature: emotional loneliness, social loneliness, and existential loneliness, as well as a more positive form of aloneness, solitude. An inductive analysis identified risk and protective factors for loneliness, comprising worry, lockdown changes, and poor mental health; and social contact, emotional contact, stability and simple life. The study highlights the importance of understanding how facets of aloneness interrelate, and how understanding risk and protective factors can help us to develop social and policy interventions to alleviate loneliness. In particular, solitude is proposed as a potential mechanism for alleviating loneliness, particularly existential loneliness, alongside more common social methods.

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© 2022 The Authors

    Research areas

  • loneliness, Covid-19, qualitative, narrative identity, thematic analysis, solitude, aloneness

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