Loneliness and COVID-19 preventive behaviours among Japanese adults

Andrew Stickley, Tetsuya Matsubayashi, Michiko Ueda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Background There is some evidence that loneliness may be linked to poorer health behaviours. Despite this, there has been little research to date on the relationship between loneliness and COVID-19 preventive behaviours. We studied these associations in a sample of the Japanese population. Methods Data were analysed from an online survey of 2000 adults undertaken in April and May 2020. Loneliness was assessed with the Three-Item Loneliness Scale. Information was also collected on 13 COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Regression analyses were used to examine associations. Results In linear regression models adjusted for demographic and mental health variables, both dichotomous and continuous loneliness measures were negatively associated with engaging in COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Logistic regression analyses further showed that loneliness was also associated with reduced odds for a variety of individual preventive behaviours including wearing a mask (odds ratio [OR]: 0.77, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.62-0.95), disinfecting hands (OR: 0.80, 95% CI: 0.67-0.94) and social distancing when outdoors (OR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.61-0.92). Conclusions Loneliness is associated with lower engagement in COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Interventions to prevent or ameliorate loneliness during the ongoing pandemic may be important in combating the spread of the coronavirus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Japan
  • hygiene
  • lonely
  • social distancing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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