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Coronavirus reduces social interaction, use of services

Published : 26 May 2020, 00:57

Updated : 26 May 2020, 10:30

  DF Report

Press Release Photo by THL.

The coronavirus epidemic and its restrictive measures have affected people's daily lives in many ways: in particular, social interaction has been reduced, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in a press release, referring to the findings of a survey.

About 62% of working-age people say keeping in touch with friends and relatives has decreased, reports the survey conducted on the broader impacts of the coronavirus epidemic and related restrictive measures on the health and well-being of the population.

One in every three respondents to the survey says they experience that the feeling of intimacy with other people has decreased and the feeling of loneliness has increased.

The survey also had respondents report on their hopefulness for the future. 41% of the respondents have reported decreased hopefulness. Women have been found to have experienced loss of hopefulness oftener than men: 46% of women and 35% of men).

In terms of lifestyle, 35% of the respondents have said that snacking on different treats has increased. Regarding the consumption of vegetables, fruits and berries as well as alcohol, the respondents have reported beneficial changes in health than unfavourable ones. But most of them feel that there have been no changes in lifestyles.

About 18% of the respondents have had more sleep difficulties and nightmares than before. With women, sleep difficulties and nightmares have become more common than with men (24% with women, 13% with men).

About 36% of the respondents have said that physical activity during leisure time has decreased, but, on the other hand, nearly the same amount – 30% – have said that it has increased. Women have seen slightly more favourable changes in leisure-time physical activity promoting good health than men.

“In an exceptional situation, everyday life is turned upside down, and where one person is enthusiastic about exercising between remote tasks, another person’s energy is spent on coping with everyday life. …. Getting enough sleep, doing physical activity, eating healthy food and avoiding intoxicants play a key role for health,” observed Chief Researcher Annamari Lundqvist.

The survey also asked the respondents about the use of health and social services. One in every 10 of them of working age said they had gone to an appointment because of a long-term illness and one in every four mentioned for other reasons after the beginning of March 2020.

Every week, invitations to participate in the study are sent to approximately 1,000 adults who live in Finland and are aged between 18 and 69. After sampling, the subjects are asked to complete an electronic survey.

The collection of survey data began on 28 April. The results published here are based on 1,384 responses received on 28 April to 4 May.