Loneliness is and aversive emotional experience generated by the discrepancy between desired and actual interpersonal relationships. Over the last decades, loneliness has been recognized as a public health concern, due to its high prevalence, increasing trend, and association with numerous negative mental and physical health outcomes. Lockdowns and social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to significant surges in loneliness. Understanding, preventing and reducing loneliness have, therefore, become of utmost importance (i.e., loneliness has been listed as a research priority related to the COVID-19 pandemic). An analysis of the literature indicates that: 1. numerous studies have focused on objective risk factors (e.g., social network size), but very little is known about cognitive vulnerability factors leading to chronic loneliness; 2. while interventions targeting cognitive change are most effective, very few studies have implemented coherent, manualized CBT protocols; 3. research has mostly focused on the elderly, but data show that young adults are equally vulnerable to loneliness. To address these caveats, the current project will: 1. explore the role of dysfunctional cognitions and emotion regulation difficulties as vulnerability factors for trait and state loneliness in young adults; 2. assess, in a randomized clinical trial, the efficacy of an internet-based CBT protocol in reducing loneliness (and its physiological correlates) in young adults.
Professor Aurora Szentágotai-Tătar, PhD
Professor Andrei C. Miu, PhD
Associate Professor Romana Vulturar, MD PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher Diana Nechita (Cândea), PhD
PhD student Lia-Ecaterina Oltean