Men and loneliness in the Covid‐19 pandemic: Insights from an interview study with UK‐based men

RATCLIFFE, John, KANAAN, Mona and GALDAS, Paul (2022). Men and loneliness in the Covid‐19 pandemic: Insights from an interview study with UK‐based men. Health & Social Care in the Community, 30 (5), e3009-e3017.

Ratcliffe-MenAndLoneliness(VoR).pdf - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (434kB) | Preview
Official URL:
Open Access URL: (Published version)
Link to published version::


Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK, like many countries, has had restrictions on social contact, and injunctions of ‘social distancing’. This study aimed to generate new insights into men's experiences of loneliness during the pandemic, and consider the ramifications of these for continued/future restrictions, the easing of restrictions, and the future beyond the pandemic. Twenty qualitative interviews were conducted with men between January and March 2021. A maximum variation purpose sample frame required at least three non-white men, three LGBTQ+men, three men with a university education, three without a university education, three 18–30 years old, and three aged 60+. Thematic analysis, focused on semantic themes, was employed as part of a ‘grounded’ epistemology whereby the stated perspectives of the interviewees drove the content of the study. Seven themes were constructed: (i) lost and new activities and routines; (ii) remote social interaction; (iii) narrowed social spheres; (iv) rethought and renewed recognition of what is important; (v) loneliness with a purpose; (vi) anxiety of social contact; and (vii) easier for themselves than others. Lost routines, fewer meaningful activities, and a reduction in face-to-face interaction, were framed as challenges to preventing loneliness. Solo-living gay men seemed particularly negatively affected. However, many men displayed new, more covid-safe routines and activities. Remote forms of interaction were often utilised, and though they were imperfect, were constructed as worth engaging with, and held capacity for improvement. A moral need to reduce transmission of SARS-COV-2, and a fear of catching it, became important features of participants lives that also affected loneliness. Men at higher risk of health complications from Covid-19 were particularly likely to highlight anxiety of social contact. Reducing restrictions alone may not return everyone to pre-pandemic levels of loneliness, particularly if the pandemic remains a significant public health issue.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; covid-19; loneliness; masculinity; men; social isolation; COVID-19; Humans; Loneliness; Male; Pandemics; Qualitative Research; SARS-CoV-2; United Kingdom; 1117 Public Health and Health Services; 1607 Social Work; Nursing; 4203 Health services and systems; 4206 Public health; 4409 Social work
Identification Number:
Page Range: e3009-e3017
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2023 14:41
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 11:46

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics