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Relieving social isolation and loneliness through storytelling at the time of a pandemic

2020 COV - Relieving Social Iso - PI Kuperman 1

Project Description

This study addresses the pandemic-related threat to social mobility through two online projects. The first project aims to identify changes in social mobility in the aging population (55+) caused by the pandemic. Online standard instruments for evaluating loneliness and social isolation will be administered and participants will be invited to contribute free-form narratives about their current experience and outlook on the future. This project builds a pre-pandemic database of narratives. Data will be collected during the pandemic, after lockdown is lifted, and several months after the lockdown has ended. The time-series nature of the data collected in this study, will assist in the identification of linguistic and psychosocial factors that influence psychological resilience and adaptation mechanisms in older individuals.
 
The second project, WritLarge, harnesses a technological solution that facilitates social mobility through storytelling and story-sharing and translates story writing into a tool of social engagement. In times of social distancing, the demand for tools promoting online interactions has increased. The overall output of this research will help to identify demographic and psychosocial factors that contribute the most to perceived social isolation and loneliness in older individuals and track the dynamics of these social factors. Specifically, this study will focus on the impact of the physical isolation imposed due to COVID-19 on perceived loneliness among older adults before and after the period of physical isolation. This, in turn, provides opportunities for knowledge translation that can enable mental health workers and social workers to allocate their limited capacities to more vulnerable demographics in a timely and targeted manner.

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