The unbearable loneliness of COVID-19: COVID-19-related correlates of loneliness in South Africa in young adults
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This is the first study to examine the association between COVID-19 related variables and loneliness among young adults in South Africa during COVID-19. Participants (N=337) were university students who completed the UCLA Loneliness Scale and five selected subscales of the WHO COVID-19 Behavioural Insights Tool. The mean loneliness scores were significantly higher than previous studies in other contexts as well as studies conducted in the time of COVID-19. Correlational analysis found that greater perceived risk of infection, limited perceived knowledge of COVID-19 and lower appraisals of resilience were associated with increased loneliness. In a regression analysis, when all COVID-19 variables were considered simultaneously, only resilience, self-rated knowledge, and risk perception emerged as significant correlates of loneliness. These findings suggest that loneliness is a significant public health concern in South Africa in the time of COVID-19. It also suggests that self-efficacy and resilience can potentially be reinforced by public health campaigns that focus on enhancing COVID-19-related knowledge and preparedness.