3.life – Transforming the personalised medicine and behavioural therapies of the future.

6th April 2021

In the current COVID-19 era, we are seeing a major impact on people feeling isolated and alone. Putting the mental healthcare under severe pressure, worldwide.
In respons, we are currently developing a model that copes with loneliness. Based on our reSTABLE solution model, an integrated solution based on multi-variate models built into an AI and wearable sensors that allows to measure vital parameters

The covid-19 pandemic upended ‘social interaction as we now it’ to the degree that loneliness is seen as a genuine health risk. Actually the term ‘loneliness epidemic’ is being adopted’ to describe the phenomenon. 

However long before the COVID-19 pandemic research was conducted into feelings of loneliness and how this phenomenon affects us as human beings. There is one common denominator in the research results being the fact that a sense of loneliness can affect us all and belongs to life, impacting our mental and physical health. In adult populations loneliness is even linked to overall morbidity and mortality. At 3.life we want to inspire and encourage talking about loneliness, showing the courage to reveal our vulnerability so we can support each other. Contributing to the eradication of this silent pandemic, one by one. 

The strict social distancing guidelines have the unintended consequences of prolonged social isolation and adverse impact on the general mental health. It is important to distinguish between the phenomena of social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation typically refers to the objective lack of (or limited) social contact with others and is marked by a person having few social network ties, having infrequent social contact, or potentially, living alone.

By contrast, loneliness refers to the perception of social isolation or the subjective feeling of being lonely. Although those who lack social contact may feel lonely, social isolation and loneliness often are not significantly correlated. So an individual can be isolated and not feel lonely, or can feel lonely even if he or she is not isolated. 

Because of the variety of ways that social isolation and loneliness affect health and well-being, there is no single treatment that can prevent or cure every instance of social isolation or loneliness.

Addressing the health and medical impacts of social isolation and loneliness requires a public health approach. Designing and implementing different interventions to address one of three strategies; primary, secondary and tertiary. 

Researchers Mann et al. have developed a framework that outlines how everyone can contribute, even on an individual level, to help cope with loneliness. They state that everybody is responsible, on a certain level. 

Below you can find a visual representation off their framework, linked to the different intervention strategies. 

Primary prevention strategies such as public education campaigns and relevant research funding are the responsibility of government health authorities and nonprofit organisations. 

Secondary prevention strategies are the responsibility of community actors such as general health care practitioners and local service groups. 

Those responsible for tertiary prevention strategies include affected individuals and their close associates or care team, including but not limited to family and friends. 

All of these actors will need to work together in concert to address the health and medical impacts using this public health approach. 

Taking into consideration the multiple complex facets to loneliness: 

  •  feelings of emptiness or abandonment 
  •  lack of relationships or intimacy 
  •  temporal perspective 
  •  emotional aspects that accompany loneliness: sadness, melancholy, frustration, shame, desperation 
  •  individual’s own subjective evaluation regarding quality and quantity of social interactions / relationships
  •  continuous interaction between diverse factors: identity, personality, expectations, life events, interpersonal engagement, sock-economic variables, households, etc. 

As previously announced through our partnership with EHTEL, 3.life is developing a model and application that helps cope with people’s loneliness. Transforming health outcomes and quality of life for all. 

We will keep you posted as we are gradually moving forward into the clinical studies.

Sources:

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

The Effect of Information Communication Technology Interventions on Reducing Social Isolation in the Elderly: A Systematic Review January 2016 Journal of Medical Internet Research 18(1):e18 Follow journal DOI: 10.2196/jmir.4596 

The enigmatic phenomenon of loneliness. July 2009 International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being 2(4):195-207 Follow journal. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17482620701626117 

Alarming levels of psychiatric symptoms and the role of loneliness during the COVID-19 epidemic. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113423

Loneliness is associated with the subjective evaluation of but not daily dynamics in partner relationships. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025420951246 

Acta Biomed. 2018; 89(2): 302–314. doi: https://doi.org10.23750/abm.v89i2.7404

Physical Contact and Loneliness: Being Touched Reduces Perceptions of Loneliness. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-020-00138-0 

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