BACKGROUND: There is some evidence that loneliness may be linked to poorer health behaviours. Despite this, there has been little research to date on the relationship between loneliness and COVID-19 preventive behaviours. We studied these associations in a sample of the Japanese population. METHODS: Data were analysed from an online survey of 2000 adults undertaken in April and May 2020. Loneliness was assessed with the Three-Item Loneliness Scale. Information was also collected on 13 COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Regression analyses were used to examine associations. RESULTS: In linear regression models adjusted for demographic and mental health variables, both dichotomous and continuous loneliness measures were negatively associated with engaging in COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Logistic regression analyses further showed that loneliness was also associated with reduced odds for a variety of individual preventive behaviours including wearing a mask (odds ratio [OR]: 0.77, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.62-0.95), disinfecting hands (OR: 0.80, 95% CI: 0.67-0.94) and social distancing when outdoors (OR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.61-0.92). CONCLUSIONS: Loneliness is associated with lower engagement in COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Interventions to prevent or ameliorate loneliness during the ongoing pandemic may be important in combating the spread of the coronavirus.
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