Loneliness has been long attributed to poor health outcomes. In recent years, heads of state have openly declared loneliness as an epidemic. Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said the social distancing policies may cause a worsening of the risk of loneliness. According to the website America’s Health Rankings, in 2019, Pennsylvania senior citizens were likely to be more socially isolated than on a national level.

In Pennsylvania, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a double epidemic in that it is not only fueling more infection but also an increase in loneliness. Ironically, during a time we need each other the most, the virus is forcing us apart. In a recent study published by MedRxiv, we harnessed the power of data analytics of Google Trends and found that significantly more people were searching for key terms surrounding loneliness.

In this study, we also found that, nationally, individuals who experienced loneliness are 36% more likely to die in 10 years from heart disease than those individuals who did not experience loneliness.

We created a model in order to better address loneliness by using online gatherings to vent about feelings and focus on positive aspects of life. The study was conducted by a collaborative team of researchers from Walden University and Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Sri Banerjee

Lancaster County

Dr. G. Mihalyi Szirony

Moreland Hills, Ohio

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