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Loneliness and social isolation issue brief


Although previously identified as critical social determinants of health (SDOH), loneliness and isolation were elevated and amplified during the pandemic by necessary public health precautions such as “social distancing” and mask-wearing. Some studies found an initial increase in perceived social and emotional support, yet as the pandemic wore on month-over-month, likely no person in the United States was spared their impact. According to a survey conducted by the AARP Foundation in August 2020, two-thirds of adults aged 18 and older experienced social isolation during the pandemic, while about the same amount reported that a loved one had experienced social isolation. In addition, an analysis of data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey found that “more than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries reported feeling less socially connected to friends and family since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.” These feelings were particularly prevalent among beneficiaries who were women, had a history of cancer or depression and practiced more social distancing measures.

The following brief provides an update on industry-wide efforts to address loneliness and social isolation. It also highlights research on interventions and health impact and includes considerations for areas of exploration.

Loneliness and Social Isolation Issue Brief. Humana; October 2021. Available online

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Publication year
Resource type
Issue Briefs & Reports
Social Determinant of Health
Social Support/Social Isolation