Loneliness, a new pandemic after the COVID-19

Integrated Researchers: Luisa Ribeiro (IR), Genta Kulari (co-IR), Catarina Tomé Pires, Tito Laneiro

Loneliness is the subjective feeling people experience when they feel less socially connected to others than they desire. It is considered a problem of the elderly, but it can affect people of all ages. More recently, literature explored that loneliness is most common among young adults, and is less often reported by people of older age groups. Loneliness in the current pandemic context is associated with reduced levels of social support and protective factors as well as increased level of depression, anxiety and stress, which is substantiated by the public concerns regarding the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on mental health.

The present study aims to propose a model measuring the relationship of loneliness with perceived social support, mental health, and attachment to pets. Furthermore, this model proposes loneliness as a mediator between social support and mental health, while attachment to pets as the moderator of this mediation. Thus, the instruments proposed to measure these variables are UCLA Loneliness Scale, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale, and Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale. Considering the mainstream of literature on loneliness, this is the first study to date to integrate the relations of loneliness, mental health, social support, and attachment to pets among a variety of age groups. Furthermore, the research model has not been previously introduced considering the mediating role of loneliness as the mediator between social support and mental health and attachment to pets as moderator of the mediation.

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