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Loneliness and the COVID-19 pandemic: implications for practice.

Loneliness is a complex universal human experience. A variety of evidence indicates that prolonged loneliness can have a negative effect on an individual's long-term physical and psychological outcomes. Empirical evidence and systematic reviews show strong links between loneliness and ill health, particularly cardiovascular disease and mental health. Loneliness is increasing in frequency and severity. The issue of loneliness has been part of UK Government mandates since 2018; however, evidence suggests that, due to the pandemic, the need to focus on the issue may be even more significant. Assessing for loneliness can be challenging and many people do not want to report their feelings of loneliness. Interventions should aim to be preventive and help people create meaningful interactions. Useful interventions include person-centred interventions, cognitive therapy and group intervention therapy. There is a need for more evidence-based loneliness interventions. A knowledge of local and voluntary sectors is vital so health professionals can effectively support their patients.

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