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Qual Life Res ; 2023 Feb 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2241963


PURPOSE: To determine changes to people's social contact during COVID-19, and whether reduced social contact was associated with changes to psychosocial wellbeing. METHODS: Questionnaire data were collected from a sample of adult respondents (18 years or more) in two Norwegian counties participating pre-COVID-19 (September 2019-February 2020; n = 20,196) and at two time points during COVID-19 (June [Mid] and November/December [Late] 2020; n = 11,953 and n = 10,968, respectively). The main outcome measures were participants' self-reported changes to social contact, loneliness, psychological distress, and life satisfaction. RESULTS: The proportion of respondents reporting less social contact due to COVID-19 decreased from 62% in Mid-2020 to 55% in Late-2020. Overall, reported psychological wellbeing remained unchanged or improved from pre-COVID-19 to Mid-2020. From Mid-2020 to Late-2020, however, a reduction in psychological wellbeing was observed. Poorer psychological wellbeing was found for those with less social contact during the pandemic compared with people reporting unchanged social contact. This effect increased over time and was observed for all age groups at Late-2020. At Mid-2020, the importance of change in social contact for change in psychological wellbeing was greatest among young adults (< 30 years), while no significant differences were found for the oldest age group. CONCLUSION: The association between COVID-19-era changes to social contact and loneliness, psychological distress, and life satisfaction is complex and appears to be age-dependent. Future studies should consider the quality of social contact and cultural contexts in which social restrictions are imposed.