B3573 - The impact of loneliness in your adults - 20/07/2020

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Antonieta Medina-Lara | University of Exeter (United Kingdom)
Professor Anne E Spencer
Title of project: 
The impact of loneliness in your adults
Proposal summary: 

Recent data show young adults (age 16-30) experiencing extreme loneliness. Loneliness has a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing, however existing studies largely focus on older adults, meaning the full impact in young adults is unclear. Of particular concern is the likely adoption of negative health behaviours (including addictions), the harmful overuse or underuse of NHS services, and potential for self-harm or suicide in young adults experiencing loneliness. Also, of concern is the negative impact on milestones such as finishing school, further education and getting a first job, which contribute to household wealth and wellbeing. This research aims at using the ALSPAC data to assess the impact and cost of young adult loneliness in the UK with respect to health status, over or under use of health care resources, education attainment and unemployment. Regression analysis will identify correlations between variables, while causal relationships will be investigated through instrumental variable analysis and propensity score matching. Results will be used to update existing costs estimates that have focused only on older adults. Analysis will be conducted on data before, during and after COVID-19 to consider the prevalence and impact of young adult loneliness through COVID-19, given the likely exacerbation of loneliness in the context of social distancing. This research will develop understanding and inspire greater consideration of loneliness in young adults promoting cross-sector involvement and improved support.

Impact of research: 
This research aims at understanding the impact and cost of young adult loneliness on public health, NHS resources and the wider economy. Given current rates of loneliness in this group of the population and the fact that previous literature has focused mainly exclusively in older population this piece of research will complement what we know about loneliness and fill the gap in the literature. We also hope that the results of this research will help improve our understanding of loneliness in young adults and have the evidence to help building a case for greater awareness of loneliness and for encouraging future research in this age group. It will also promote the need for cross-sector action where effects are observed in health, education and wider economic sectors. In turn this will promote happier and healthier young adults where the negative consequences of loneliness are reduced as a result of greater understanding and attention from policymakers and more targeted support.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 17 July, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 20 July, 2020
Health Economics, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc.