Intended for healthcare professionals


We need a public health approach to loneliness

BMJ 2022; 376 doi: (Published 09 February 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;376:o280

Linked Research

The prevalence of loneliness across 113 countries

  1. Roger O’Sullivan, director1,
  2. Gerry Leavey, director2,
  3. Brian Lawlor, deputy executive director3
  1. 1The Institute of Public Health, Dublin, D08 NH90, Ireland
  2. 2The Bamford Centre, Ulster University, Coleraine, UK
  3. 3The Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to: R O’Sullivan roger.osullivan{at}

Loneliness is costly to individuals and society; it should be a political priority

The public health and social measures implemented during the covid-19 pandemic highlight the importance of social capital to health and wellbeing. As many countries move into a new stage with the reduction and removal of many public health social measures, renewed energy is needed to rethink social and community connections in which “building back better” includes evidence based initiatives to deal with loneliness, especially among those most vulnerable.

Surkalim and colleagues’ linked systematic review and meta-analysis (doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-067068) on the prevalence of loneliness in 113 countries provides useful pre-pandemic baseline data to support public health interventions.1 Notable variations in loneliness by age and region require further exploration. Additionally, …

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