INtegrating loneliness mitigation measures in pandemic management plans:

An interdisCiplinary in-depth expLoration of psychologically and ethically sUitable interventions to DecreasE social isolation [INCLUDE]


The project is part of the National Research Programme 80: "Covid-19 in Society" and founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation



Loneliness and its mitigation need be the focus of further research. Already before the pandemic, between 1/5-1/3 of the people suffered from loneliness. It is a serious risk for mental and physical health. There is a need to include loneliness prevention and alleviation interventions (LPAIs) in PMPs to reduce the psychological, physical and behavioral effects of social isolation measures, increase individual and social welfare and enable strategies to reduce the burden caused by pandemics.

Project description

It is widely acknowledged that the pandemic, and successive restriction measures, have caused serious disruption to ordinary lives and a deterioration in public mental health. Apart from illness and death, a distinctive mark of the pandemic has been disrupted social interactions, increasing social isolation and loneliness. Mental health consequences varied widely and were significantly dependent on an individual’s unique social context. While the National COVID-19 Science Task Force proposed already in June 2020 that mitigation measures for main stress factors should be included among pandemic management plans (PMPs), in-depth research on concrete measures and on the ethical balancing between prevention of mental health problems versus prevention of virus spread remains scarce.

The aim is to explore in-depth the experiences of people affected by loneliness in order to identify types and justifications of loneliness prevention and alleviation interventions that can inform PMPs.  A questionnaire study will help to confirm the perceived usefulness of loneliness alleviation measures.

UZH Öffentlichkeitsanlass 2023 - Presentation of Prof. Dr. Elger: Einsamkeit und Solidarität – Braucht die Schweiz ein «Loneliness-Ministerium»?

Principal investigators:

Prof. Dr. Bernice Elger, Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel; Unit for Health Law and Humanitarian Medicine, Center for Legal Medicine, University of Geneva

Prof. Dr. Rainer Greifeneder, Faculty of Psychology, University of Basel

Further team members:

Dr. Helene Seaward

Dr. Michael Rost

Dr. Stephen Milford

Dr. Cristina Priboi

Lena Siep, PhD student

Gemma García, PhD student 


Contact: Prof. Bernice Elger