Loneliness is a heavy burden, with long-term costs to well-being and public health. LGBTQ+ individuals are especially vulnerable to loneliness and its consequential impacts over time, including increased suicidal behavior, clinical depression and anxiety, elevated risk of heart failure and stroke, and cognitive decay. During this pandemic, social restrictions have created an environment especially facilitative to loneliness.
Further, preliminary data show that people with greater feelings of loneliness during the pandemic are at heightened risk for COVID-19 infection, worsened mental health, and difficulties in their relationships. This effect was emphasized in LGBTQ+ participants. Here, we propose a longitudinal study on loneliness and well-being in LGBTQ+ individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a 30-day daily diary study and extended monthly check-ins. To align with the current safe-at-home circumstances, as well as with the future of social relationships, it is necessary to understand how digital interactions can be felt as high-quality connections and as significant contributors to wellness.
This study will specifically focus on participants’ digital interactions as conduits for meaningful connections and buffers against loneliness. The resulting data will allow for modelling loneliness over time, linking changes in loneliness with both personal and digital interaction factors, and identifying buffers and catalysts of loneliness and related consequences to well-being. We plan to disseminate our results broadly, to both academic and public audiences, and work toward developing an effective digital intervention for loneliness in the LGBTQ+ community.
Dr. Amanda Gesselman, Anita Aldrich Endowed Research Scientist and Associate Director for Research, Kinsey Institute
Dr. Justin Garcia, Executive Director and Associate Scientist, Kinsey Institute; Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor of Gender Studies, Indiana University
Dr. Justin Lehmiller, Research Fellow, Kinsey Institute
Dr. Alexandra Marcotte, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Kinsey Institute
Dr. Kristen Mark, Associate Professor of Kinesiology & Health Promotion, University of Kentucky