The proposed project will significantly advance the understanding of the impact of COVID-19 related mitigation strategies on isolation, loneliness, alcohol use, alcohol use consequences, and mental health and physical health outcomes by using social network analysis to investigate how isolation and personal networks are related to patterns of drinking over time. Isolation and loneliness are both known to negatively impact a range of health outcomes and health behaviors; while prolonged COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders will increase isolation, it is unknown what impact they will have on loneliness or the other identified outcomes, which groups will be most susceptible to negative outcomes, or whether changes in alcohol use will be temporary or long lived. The fields of alcohol research and prevention may see substantial benefit from the use of novel methodological techniques to develop models that may provide a clearer understanding of the ways in which physical isolation and related mitigation strategies impact adult drinking. Specifically, the proposed project will: 1) assess how COVID-19 related changes in physical isolation, perceptions of loneliness, and social support exchanges (emotional and instrumental support) are linked to changes in mental health, physical health, and alcohol use and consequences in a nationally representative sample of N=1,771 30-80 year olds; 2) determine the relative importance of a range of structural and behavioral personal network characteristics on changes in mental health, physical health, and alcohol use and consequences during COVID-19; and 3) examine the role of COVID-19 related changes in physical isolation, loneliness, and social support on mental health, physical health, and alcohol use and consequences disparities by sex, race/ethnicity and economic status within and across two stages of the adult lifespan (mid- and later- life), and identify adults who are more resilient versus vulnerable to COVID-19 related impacts. To do so, we propose to add two surveys to our ongoing data collection for R01AA025956 that specifically examine COVID-19 related changes in physical isolation, loneliness, social support, personal and network alcohol use, and alcohol use outcomes. With this additional data collection, we will have five waves of data on these measures, spanning critical phases of the COVID pandemic: pre-COVID (Parent project Wave 1, reflecting April 2019 behaviors), early-COVID (Parent project Wave 2, reflecting April 2020 ? during the rollout of distancing guidelines), mid- and late-COVID (2 supplemental surveys: August 2020 and February 2021, likely during easing of current restrictions), and post-COVID (Parent project Wave 3, reflecting April 2021). The study will provide new insights into the role of isolation, loneliness, and social support on alcohol use, and associated health-related disparities, subsequent to pandemic-related mitigation strategies based on isolation. Additionally, data from the study will eventually be made publicly available and other researchers will also be able to continue to survey the same panel, providing an ongoing resource for the scientific community.
This urgent competitive revision seeks to longitudinally assess the impact of adherence to COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines - and related changes in isolation, loneliness and social support - on changes in mental health, physical health, and alcohol use and consequences. The proposed study builds on an ongoing 5-year NIAAA-funded study of adult personal networks and alcohol use in a nationally representative sample of adults ages 30-80.