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17 Nov 2015

Study to tackle ‘transient loneliness’

Academics hope new research will raise awareness of the issue of ‘transient loneliness’ which affects increasing numbers of people from migrants and carers to students and lone workers.

As many as one in 10 people in the UK are lonely. Transient loneliness typically affects people who are temporarily separated from family and friends and undergo important life transitions or disruptions such as: migrant workers moving to the UK for employment, students who leave home to study, lone workers, and those who find themselves in the position of needing to provide full-time care to a family member. 

Such groups are thought to be more vulnerable to periods of loneliness and may be less likely to take steps to deal with it.  

The study Loneliness in the Digital Age: Building Strategies for Empathy and Trust will explore transient loneliness and how technical interventions might help relieve feelings of isolation.

The project is being funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), along with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), and brings together researchers from Loughborough University and the Universities of Bath, Newcastle, Exeter and Northumbria.

Lead researcher Professor Mike Wilson from the School of the Arts, English and Drama at Loughborough University said:

“It is ironic that in an age where we are more digitally connected than ever to the world around us, increasing numbers of people are experiencing periods of loneliness.

“Our aim is to better understand what it means to be transiently lonely, to map how and when these feelings occur, and to work with those affected to explore how this loneliness could be alleviated through creative interventions and technology.  

“These people are not ‘lonely people’ in the sense of being chronically lonely, but they are experiencing senses of isolation which could be detrimental to their health and wellbeing.”

Researchers are working with a number of groups and organisations to identify those experiencing or at risk of transient loneliness. 

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 15/213

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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