Investigating the Impact of Social Contact, Coping Strategies, and Social Cognition on Loneliness and Psychological Distress in Older Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Online Survey

Prof Doc Thesis


Presman, A. 2021. Investigating the Impact of Social Contact, Coping Strategies, and Social Cognition on Loneliness and Psychological Distress in Older Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Online Survey. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.89wxq
AuthorsPresman, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Abstract

This study investigated factors associated with wellbeing in 114 older adults (aged ≥70) during the COVID-19 pandemic; namely, the effects of social contact, coping strategies, and social cognition. Data was collected through an online survey. The relationships between variables were investigated using multiple linear regression. Qualitative data on wellbeing and coping strategies was also collected and analysed using content analysis. Results showed that participants who lived alone reported higher levels of psychological distress than those who lived with someone else. Higher face-to-face social contact with people from outside of one’s household was associated with lower reported distress; however, virtual social contact and attendance of organised online groups were not associated with distress. Negative coping strategies, including denial, self-blame, and behavioural disengagement were associated with higher distress, whereas Theory-of-Mind ability and cognitive empathy were associated with lower distress. Additionally, the negative relationship between face-to-face social contact and distress was stronger in participants who lived with someone than in participants who lived alone. There was also a suggestion that social cognition, namely cognitive and affective empathy, may moderate the relationship between social contact and distress. This research is important for understanding how older adults can be supported during the COVID-19 pandemic, and implications are discussed. Further research with larger and more representative samples is needed to clarify and confirm these effects. Further research also needs to focus on experiences of carers and cared-for individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KeywordsCOVID-19; Coronavirus; Older Adults; Social Distancing; Social Contact
Year2021
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.89wxq
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Anyone
Publication dates
Online06 Oct 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted31 Aug 2021
Deposited07 Oct 2021
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