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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing protocols designed to impede transmission of the corona virus have severe mental health consequences. This study examine changes in loneliness in the general adult population when the corona-related social distancing protocols were largely discontinued (T2) following a period of strict protocols (T1), predictors and correlates of these changes, and the associations between loneliness and depression and anxiety symptoms. DESIGN: In an online survey, 10,061 responded at T1. At T2, these respondents were asked to complete the survey again, and 4936 (49.1%) of them responded. RESULTS: Loneliness decreased from T1 to T2, but only to a minor extent. Using a multilevel approach, younger age was found to be related to more reduction of loneliness from T1 to T2. Higher health anxiety was found to predict less reduction of loneliness across time. Reduction of maladaptive coping strategies and negative metacognitive beliefs from T1 to T2 were both associated with reduction in loneliness. In turn, reductions in loneliness were associated with reductions of depression and anxiety symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that health anxiety, maladaptive coping strategies and negative meta-beliefs are potential targets of intervention to alleviate loneliness. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: identifier: NCT04444115.

Original publication




Journal article


Anxiety Stress Coping

Publication Date





44 - 57


Loneliness, anxiety, depression, longitudinal, maladaptive coping strategies, metacognition, Adult, COVID-19, Depression, Humans, Loneliness, Pandemics, Physical Distancing, SARS-CoV-2