Loneliness and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in older breast cancer survivors and noncancer controls

CancerRentscher KE, Zhao X, Small BJ, et al. | June 25, 2021

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been reported to have wide-ranging health effects and has increased isolation. Researchers herein investigated a sample of older breast cancer survivors and matched noncancer controls enrolled in the longitudinal Thinking and Living With Cancer (TLC) study with the aim to determine changes in loneliness and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in this population. Per their hypothesis, increases in loneliness would be larger among cancer survivors vs controls and increases in loneliness would be linked with worsening depression and anxiety symptoms and higher stress during the pandemic in survivors vs controls. Similar changes in loneliness and mental health were recorded among cancer survivors vs women without cancer. However, both groups described increased loneliness from before to during the pandemic that was linked with worsening mental health, indicating the relevance of screening for loneliness during medical care interactions for recognizing all older women at risk for adverse mental health effects of the pandemic.

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