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UW Study Seeks to Understand Socioeconomic Effects of Social Distancing, Isolation

June 4, 2020
Neely Mahapatra and Sukyung Yoon

For many people, social distancing, self-isolation and sometimes the need to quarantine have become common practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of the loneliness brought on by this “new normal” can be eased by reading, cooking, online entertainment and talking with friends through social media, an online survey by the University of Wyoming Division of Social Work is being used to look more deeply into the effects of social distancing and isolation.

Neely Mahapatra, an associate professor, and Sukyung Yoon, an assistant professor, both in the UW Division of Social Work in the College of Health Sciences, have partnered with scholars from Canada, South Korea and Singapore to conduct a multi-country study aimed at assessing the impact of the pandemic on the socioeconomic health and well-being of individuals and families.

This web-based survey was developed to recruit participants for the study, focusing on how families and individuals are functioning during isolation. Survey questions focus on the dynamics of personal or family relationships, and experiences of abuse while in isolation or quarantine.

In addition, the study aims to investigate the impact of COVID-19 measures on the physical and mental health of families and individuals; experiences of stress due to financial strain and changes in employment status; and perceived support systems and resiliency amid the pandemic.

Johns Hopkins University and the Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center report that, as of June 3, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., with over 100,000 fatalities.

“In the absence of a vaccine, social distancing/isolation have been the main preventive measure to check the spread of the pandemic,” Mahapatra says. “Even though these pandemic measures are necessary, social distancing/isolation may interfere with basic human nature to connect with others and adversely impact people’s mental health.”

A minimum of two waves of online data collection will occur during the COVID-19 social distancing/isolation study in the U.S. This will allow for a broader range of data and will help determine how the general population will respond to the pandemic over time, as the future impacts of the pandemic are yet unknown.

If you are interested in participating in the study, go to or

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