December 4, 2020
Purpose: Feelings of loneliness are likely to exacerbate risk of depression in people living with cancer during COVID-19. Design and Methods: Five hundred and eighteen people with cancer with data extracted from two waves (2017–19 and April 2020) of the Understanding Society UK dataset participated. Findings: An increased risk of depression was observed for cancer of the breast, prostate, blood, but not other cancers (e.g., lung, melanoma). After controlling for prior depression and other factors, it was loneliness during COVID-19, and not previous loneliness, that was predictive. Those currently lonely had a 4.5-fold increased risk of depression. These findings demonstrate that people living with cancer are at increased risk of developing depression during COVID-19, and that feelings of isolation help explain this risk. Implications: These particular findings have implications for health promotion and intervention work and how best to support people who may feel lonely in this vulnerable group.
Journal of Psychosocial Oncology