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Social Isolation and Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-National Analysis
- Social Isolation and Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-National Analysis
- Kim, Harris Hyun-soo; Jung, Jong Hyun
- Ewha Authors
- SCOPUS Author ID
- Issue Date
- Journal Title
- GERONTOLOGIST vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 103 - 113
- COVID-19; Mental well-being; Multilevel analysis; National context; Social distancing
- OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC
- SCIE; SSCI; SCOPUS
- Document Type
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- Background and Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in social isolation globally, creating heightened levels of stress and anxiety. This study investigates the link between social isolation and mental well-being in later life, and how it varies across countries. Research Design and Methods: We draw on a subset of older adults from Global Behaviors and Perceptions in the COVID-19 Pandemic, a unique global online survey of 13,660 participants from 62 countries. We use mixed-effects models to analyze the data. Results: Social isolation (distancing) significantly predicts poor mental health operationalized as coronavirus-induced distress (p < .01). At the aggregate level, average distress varies positively across countries with higher numbers of coronavirus-related deaths (p < .10) and more fragile state capacity (p < .05), while varying negatively across those with more stringent anticoronavirus policies (p < .05). Finally, we report several cross-level interactions between social isolation and the total number of deaths (p = .025), policy stringency (p = .065), state fragility (p = .061), and globalization index (p = .071). Discussion and Implications: Our study shows that a proper understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of older adults should consider the moderating role of national context.
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