EFFECTS OF SOCIAL ISOLATION ON MENTAL HEALTH DURING COVID-19 IN THE CONTEXT OF AGEING

Authors

  • Ilze Koroļeva Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
  • Sigita Sniķere Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
  • Aleksandrs Aleksandrovs Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
  • Ieva Reine Rīga Stradiņš University
  • Mārcis Trapencieris Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
  • Andrejs Ivanovs Rīga Stradiņš University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.17770/sie2021vol6.6421

Keywords:

ageing, COVID-19, psychoemotional disorders, social isolation, Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement (SHARE)

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant changes to the usual rhythm of life. Reduced opportunities to meet with family members and friends in a situation of heightened stress leads to increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation, as well as increases the risk of mental health problems. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effect of social contacts on the changes in psychoemotional states in the elderly population in Latvia during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis draws upon quantitative data collected by the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe within Wave 8 in Latvia (n=1207). Measurements of the frequency of social contacts were used to construct social isolation indexes. Changes of psychoemotional state, characterized by sleeping problems, nervousness, frustration during the pandemic were included as dependent variables in multinomial logistic regression models that were run to identify the effect of social isolation on psychoemotional health in the context of other factors: age, gender, perceived health status, affluence and feelings of loneliness. The results show that in the group of those aged 50+, close to one-fifth of respondents experienced the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on their mental health. The link between reduced social contacts and changes in psychoemotional states proved to be statistically significant. In the group with the highest level of social isolation, irregularities in psychoemotional health are three times higher compared to other groups.

Author Biographies

  • Ilze Koroļeva, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
    ILZE KOROĻEVA, Dr.sc.soc., is a senior researcher and deputy director at the Institute of Philosophy and sociology, LU. She has led and contributed to more than 50 local and cross-national comparative surveys. Ilze Koroleva has extensive expertise in social research methodology and rich experience in quantitative data analysis.  Her scientific work is largely focused on identities, migration, social inequality and social exclusion research, as well as health and well-being issues. She has more than 70 scientific publications, the most notable of which are two monographs and articles, which have been published in The Sociological Review, European Psychiatry, Religious-philosophical articles and other peer-reviewed journals.
  • Sigita Sniķere, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
    SIGITA SNIĶERE is a researcher at Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia. She has coordinated and contributed to more than 30 local and cross-national comparative studies. Her scientific work is focused on public health, addictions, social exclusion, children's well-being and youth issues. Sigita Snikere has more than 20 scientific publications.
  • Aleksandrs Aleksandrovs, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
    ALEKSANDRS ALEKSANDROVS is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia specialised in research methodology elaboration and harmonization, data governance at project and institutional level , as well as research ethics and communication. He has more than a decade of hands-on experience of implementation and coordination of national and international comparative studies.
  • Ieva Reine, Rīga Stradiņš University
    IEVA REINE is a senior researcher at RSU and LU. PhD in Social medicine and Gender studies, psychologist, public health and social insurance expert at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Associated researcher, supervisor and lecturer at the Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Disability and Habilitation, Uppsala University. Expert of the International Interdisciplinary Research Network on Multilingualism in Health Care (Germany) and multidisciplinary scientific consortium TECHNEQUALITY (European Commission’s Horizon 2020 framework).
  • Mārcis Trapencieris, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
    MARCIS TRAPENCIERIS is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia specialised in methods of multivariate statistical analysis.
  • Andrejs Ivanovs, Rīga Stradiņš University
    ANDREJS IVANOVS has a PhD in Medical Sociology. He is the Head of Statistics Unit and the leading researcher at the Institute of Public Health at the RSU. He has the expertise in project management, medical sociology, public health, social epidemiology and in methods of multivariate statistical analysis. Andrejs is an active member of the European Society for Health and Medical Sociology and a member of the European Sociological Association on facilitation of socio-medical and sociological researches.

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Published

2021-05-28