Public health recommendations and governmental measures during the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have enforced numerous restrictions on daily living including social distancing, isolation, and home confinement. While these measures are imperative to mitigate spreading of COVID-19, the impact of these restrictions on psychosocial health is undefined. Therefore, an international online survey was launched in April 2020 to elucidate the behavioral and lifestyle consequences of COVID-19 restrictions. This report presents the preliminary results from more than one thousand responders on social participation and life satisfaction.
Methods: Thirty-five research organizations from Europe, North-Africa, Western Asia, and the Americas promoted the survey through their networks to the general society, in 7 languages (English, German, French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and Slovenian). Questions were presented in a differential format with questions related to responses “before” and “during” confinement conditions.
Results: 1047 participations (54% women) from Asia (36%), Africa (40%), Europe (21%), and others (3%) were included in the analysis. Findings revealed psychosocial strain during the enforced COVID-19 home confinement. Large decreases (p < 0.001) in the amount of social activity through family (−58%), friends/neighbors (−44.9%), or entertainment (−46.7%) were triggered by the enforced confinement. These negative effects on social participation were also associated with lower life satisfaction (−30.5%) during the confinement period. Conversely, the social contact score through digital technologies significantly increased (p < 0.001) during the confinement period with more individuals (+24.8%) being socially connected through digital technology.
Conclusion: These preliminary findings elucidate the risk of psychosocial strain during the early COVID-19 home confinement period in 2020. Therefore, in order to mitigate the negative psychosocial effects of home confinement, implementation of national strategies focused on promoting social inclusion through a technology-based solution is strongly suggested.
©2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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