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INtegrating loneliness mitigation measures in pandemic management plans: an interdisCiplinary in-depth expLoration of psychologically and ethically sUitable interventions to DecreasE social isolation [INCLUDE]
Third-party funded project
Project title INtegrating loneliness mitigation measures in pandemic management plans: an interdisCiplinary in-depth expLoration of psychologically and ethically sUitable interventions to DecreasE social isolation [INCLUDE]
Principal Investigator(s) Elger, Bernice Simone
Co-Investigator(s) Greifeneder, Rainer
Project Members Siep, Lena
García Calderó, Gemma María
Rost, Michael
Seaward, Helene
Organisation / Research unit Ethik / Bio- und Medizinethik (Elger)
Department Ethik,
Ethik / Bio- und Medizinethik (Elger)
Project start 01.01.2023
Probable end 31.12.2025
Status Active

Introduction: It is widely acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic, and successive
Coronavirus-related restriction measures, have caused serious disruption to ordinary
lives and a deterioration in public mental health. Apart from illness and death, a
distinctive mark of the pandemic has been disrupted social interactions, increasing
social isolation and loneliness. Mental health consequences varied widely and were
significantly dependent on an individual’s unique social context. While the National
COVID-19 Science Task Force (NCS-TF) proposed already in June 2020 that mitigation
measures for main stress factors should be included among pandemic management
plans (PMPs), in-depth research on concrete measures and on the ethical balancing
between prevention of mental health problems versus prevention of virus spread
remains scarce. Given the high diversity of how people cope with social isolation, there
has recently been a growing recognition that the concept of loneliness captures best
the difference between being alone versus lonely, and that loneliness and its mitigation
(during and beyond pandemics) need to be at the center of much needed further
Already before the pandemic, globally, between one fifth and a third of the world
suffered from loneliness. In 2005, 26% of the Swiss population reported feeling lonely
and by 2017 the figure had increased to 38% (above the global average of 33%). It is
well established that loneliness is a serious health risk that affects both psychological
and physical health. There is a vital need to include loneliness prevention and
alleviation interventions (LPAIs) in PMPs. To do so requires not only thorough
knowledge about feasible and available measures and their usefulness, but also a
well-argued and well communicated psychologically and ethically sound balancing
between measures, especially those measures that may alleviate isolation, but at the
same time increase virus spreading. Taking loneliness into account in future PMPs will
reduce the harmful psychological, physical and behavioral effects of social isolation
measures, increase individual and social welfare, and enable more transparent and
just strategies to reduce the burden associated with pandemics.
Objectives and study parts: We will use a mixed methods approach to fill the existing
research gap. The aim is to provide an in-depth exploration into the experiences of
people affected by loneliness in order to identify types and justifications of loneliness
prevention and alleviation interventions that can inform PMPs.

Financed by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

Cooperations ()

  ID Kreditinhaber Kooperationspartner Institution Laufzeit - von Laufzeit - bis
4662563  Elger, Bernice Simone  Sandra Meier  Dalhousie University  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662564  Elger, Bernice Simone  Lederman Zohar  Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662565  Elger, Bernice Simone  José Antonio Pérez-Escobar  ETH Zurich  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662562  Elger, Bernice Simone  Lieb, Rosalind  University of Basel Department Psychology  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662566  Elger, Bernice Simone  Eisenbeck, Nikolett  Sevilla University, Spain  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662567  Elger, Bernice Simone  Stephen Milford  IBMB University of Basel  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662568  Elger, Bernice Simone  Prainsack, Barbara  Univ. of Vienna  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662569  Elger, Bernice Simone  Luhmann, Maike   Ruhr University Bochum (RUB)  01.02.2023  30.09.2026 
4662570  Elger, Bernice Simone  Bücker, Susanne   Ruhr University Bochum  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662571  Elger, Bernice Simone  Iten, Anne  Eidgenössische Kommission für Pandemievorbereitung und -bewältigung (EKP  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 
4662572  Elger, Bernice Simone  Piffaretti, J. C.   Eidgenössische Kommission für Pandemievorbereitung und -bewältigung (EKP)  01.02.2023  30.06.2026 

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