Managing Loneliness and Social Isolation – NIHCM Insights

Discover the risk factors associated with loneliness, its impact on well-being, and strategies to combat the distress that can come with social isolation.

As millions around the world practice social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19, psychological distress from isolation and loneliness poses an increased threat to well-being. In addition, pre-existing mental health issues can be compounded with the new, extraordinary conditions we find ourselves in. The National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) recently published new data insights highlighting the key risk factors associated with loneliness, the impact of loneliness on mental health and well-being, and strategies to combat the distress that can come with increased social isolation.

Loneliness before COVID-19

According to the recent Data Insights, over 20% of U.S. adults reported that they often or always felt lonely or isolated before the COVID-19 pandemic. These feelings often impact an individual’s mental health and can lead to a wide variety of adverse consequences. In fact, the NIHCM study shows that nearly 60% of those who felt lonely or isolated also said the feelings negatively impacted their mental health. Additionally, 55% reported that their loneliness or isolation negatively impacted their physical health and almost 50% said it impacted their personal relationships.

[RELATED: COVID-19 Resources for Healthcare Providers, Families, and Leadership]

Risk factors of loneliness

There are many factors that can influence the likelihood of an individual experiencing loneliness. For example, increased age, maintaining an ideal social network size, enjoying a variety of hobbies, and being in a romantic relationship can all decrease loneliness and reduce the associated stress. Other factors can increase the likelihood of experiencing loneliness, such as LGBTQ status, lower income levels, living or working in urban environments, and, most pertinent, social isolation. The NIHCM study also identified factors that have little to no effect on loneliness, including education level, an individual’s race or ethnicity, and gender.

Strategies to combat loneliness

The world has not seen a pandemic of this nature in recent history, and many are unsure and concerned with how to move forward. While there are many elements outside of our control, there are strategies and solutions we all can adopt to ease the burden and reduce the potential distress caused by isolation. According to the NIHCM, social interaction is the key to combating loneliness. Obviously, means of this interaction are limited, but the study offers a variety of ways to stay connected during the COVID-19 social restrictions. These include talking with loved ones and friends virtually and regularly, utilizing social platforms, and checking in on neighbors, especially elderly individuals and those at high risk.

It is unclear how or when the social distancing restrictions will be lifted, but the report does provide post-COVID-19 guidance. Home-visits, face to face connections, community-based programs, and getting to know your neighbors are all recommendations for returning to a healthy state of mind following the pandemic.

[RELATED: Taking Care of Yourself During COVID-19 Uncertainty]

Additional Resources and Research

Many researchers have been studying mental health and specifically loneliness during the COVID-19 era. Explore the additional information and variety of strategies to improve loneliness cited at the bottom of the NIHCM report web page. For more resources and research on mental health and well-being in the healthcare industry, follow the Well-Being Index and subscribe to the blog.

As always, we want to thank all healthcare workers sacrificing to keep us all safe. We are grateful for your continued selflessness and service. We will get through this together.

Related Posts

Privacy Preferences
Web privacy policy
We take your privacy seriously, and we want you to know how we collect, use, share and protect your information.

What information we collect
We respect the right to privacy of all visitors to the Champions of Wellness site. We do not collect information that would personally identify you unless you choose to provide it. The personal information that you submit, such as on the request a quote page, is shared only with those people within the Champions of Wellness organization who need this information to respond to your request and we will utilize the information to improve Champions of Wellness operations. Information submitted through Champions of Wellness's online forms may be collected to ensure technical functionality. It will also be utilized to report any inappropriate use of our website. We do not save personal information to use for other purposes, nor do we provide it to any other groups.

Email communications, newsletter and related services
Champions of Wellness provides you with the opportunity to receive communications from us or third parties. You can sign up for a free email newsletter as well as unsubscribe from this at any time.
Email communications that you send to us via the contact and email links on our site may be shared with any member of our team and will be directed to the person most able to address your message. We make every effort to respond in a timely fashion once communications are received. Once we have responded to your communication, it is discarded or archived, depending on the nature of the message.

The email functionality on our site does not provide a completely secure and confidential means of communication. It's possible that your email communication may be accessed or viewed by another Internet user while in transit to us. If you wish to keep your communication private, do not use our email and call 888-426-7793.

You may decide at some point that you no longer wish to receive communications from our site. To stop receiving communications, send an email message to us.

Surveys
We, from time to time, survey visitors to our site. The information is used in an aggregated, de-identified form to help us understand the needs of our visitors so that we can improve our visitor experience. The information may be shared with third parties with whom we have a business relationship. We generally do not ask for information in the surveys that would personally identify you. If we do request contact information for follow-up, you may decline to provide it. If survey respondents provide personal information, it is shared only with those people who need to see it to respond to the question or request, or with third parties who perform data management services for our site. Those third parties have agreed to keep all data from surveys confidential.

IP addresses
The Web server will automatically collect the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computers that access the Champions of Wellness site. An IP address is a number that is assigned to your computer when you access the Internet. It is not truly personally identifiable information because many different individuals can access the Internet via the same computer. We use this information in aggregate form to understand how our site or advertisements from Champions of Wellness are being used and how we can better serve visitors.

Cookies and other tracking technology
We collect information about visitors to our site using "cookies" and similar technology such as event tracking, pixel tags, visitor usage recordings and so on. We use this technology to recognize a repeat visitor and offer the visitor a set of content targeted based on a previous visit. We use session cookies to track a visitor's path through our site during a visit, to help us understand how people use our site and interact with us in order for us to continually improve our visitor experience.

How we use the information we collect:

We use the information we collect for things like:
-Fulfilling requests for services or information
-Marketing and advertising products and services
-Conducting research and analysis
-Communicating things like special events and surveys
-Establishing and managing your account with us
-Identifying you on our websites and tailoring advertisements and offers to you (both on our websites and on other websites) based on your interactions with us in person and online
-Operating, evaluating and improving our business and website

Data retention
We will retain your information for as long as your account is active or as needed to provide you services, comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, and enforce our agreements.

Except for authorized law enforcement investigations or other valid legal processes, we will not share any personally identifiable information we receive from you with any parties outside of Champions of Wellness.

We may share some information to third parties
We may share your personally identifiable information with third parties who we have engaged to help us provide you services. In each case, we will ensure that these third parties have agreed not to use or disclose your personal information except to help us provide the services.

Except as noted above for newsletters and surveys, Champions of Wellness does not provide any third party access to your IP address and email address.

We may provide third parties with aggregate statistics about our visitors, traffic and related site information. This data reflects site-usage patterns gathered during visits to our website each month, but they do not contain behavioral or identifying information about any individual member unless that member has given us permission to share that information.

To help us determine the effectiveness of our advertising, we work with Web analytics tools hosted by third parties who receive non-identifiable information from your browser, including but not limited to the site or the advertisement you came from, your IP address, your general geographic location, your browser and platform information, and the pages you view within our site.

Ads by Google
Note that Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on our site. Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to our site users based on their visit to our site and other sites on the Internet. No personally identifiable information is collected as part of Google's process. Users may opt out of the use of this DART cookie by visiting Google's privacy document.
If you would like more information about these practices and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, visit the Network Advertising Initiative. Some ad servers allow you to opt out of anonymous data collection through the use of cookies. To do so, you must opt out of such data collection with each individual site. You can opt out of cookies for several ad servers by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative gateway opt-out site. At that site you can also review the privacy policies of those ad servers.

Protecting your privacy
Whether you are visiting theChampions of Wellness site or working with one of our team members, we use reasonable security measures to protect the confidentiality of personal information under our control and appropriately limit access to it. Champions of Wellness cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information you transmit to us, and you do so at your own risk. We have taken reasonable steps to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the personal information that you may provide. You should understand, however, that electronic transmissions via the Internet are not necessarily secure from interception, and so we cannot 100% guarantee the security or confidentiality of such transmissions.

If you reached this site via an ad from Champions of Wellness
If you come to a Champions of Wellness website via a Champions of Wellness advertisement, the ad may have been served to you based on your interests or selected for you based on your browsing activities.

Protecting children's privacy
We are committed to protecting children's privacy on the Internet, and we do not knowingly collect any personal information from children.

Links to other websites
Our websites link to client websites, many of which have their own privacy policies. Be sure to review the privacy policy on the site you're visiting.

Privacy policy updates
We may need to update our privacy policy as technology changes and Champions of Wellness evolves. If we make significant changes to this privacy policy, we'll update it here.

This policy was last updated in November 2020.