Dr. Mary Pat Sullivan, professor of Social Work at Nipissing University, is asking the public for help.
While she spent time researching loneliness among seniors in Great Britain, she got involved in the International Loneliness and Isolation Research Network (I-LINK) to debunk some misconceptions of social isolation.
“Under COVID, there has been more attention on what’s happened since we were required to physically isolate ourselves from one another,” explains Dr. Sullivan on why I-LINK is running the study.
Dr. Sullivan joins researchers from a variety of institutions from around the world including in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States and Holland. Through an online public survey, I-LINK aims to learn how people have been coping with loneliness and social isolation to help researchers understand the impact on individuals, families and communities.
Most of Dr. Sullivan’s research is focused on senior citizens. As the only Canadian researcher on the team, she is also responsible for spreading the word about the survey.
“Hopefully, as many Canadians as possible will complete [the survey] and then we can look more globally about what might be some of the similarities or differences in terms of how people were feeling pre-COVID and then during COVID,” Dr. Sullivan says.
The results of the study could have a variety of impacts within the field of social work.
“We may very well learn how we’re coping and learn strategies from others on how they’re coping,” Dr. Sullivan explains.
The survey is available to everyone online and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Dr. Sullivan says that the study will be going on for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is prevalent.