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Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on wellbeing - survey findings

Findings from wave 4 of a telephone survey we commissioned to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people in Scotland


3 Social contacts and relationships

Key findings:

Compared with March 2021, far fewer people felt cut off from family and friends, or were struggling to cope with restrictions on socialising.

More people are meeting up with others more than once a week, while levels of phone and video contact also remain high.

Though most say relationships with others have remained the same, a quarter say their relationships with friends are weaker than pre- pandemic.

Compared with previous waves, far fewer people were feeling isolated from friends and family or finding restrictions on socialising difficult to cope with

Q Which, if any, of the following statements apply to you?

Bar chart showing 25% feel cut off from family or friends and 22% find the current restrictions on socialising difficult to cope with, both down from previous waves

Base: W1 (1,000), W2 (1,004), W3 (1,000), W4 (1,006) All

However, some groups were still more likely to be feeling isolated and to find the restrictions difficult

  • Disabled people were more likely to feel cut off from family and friends (42%, compared with 19% of non-disabled people), and to be finding the current social restrictions difficult to deal with (36% vs 17%).
  • People on lower incomes were more likely to feel cut off from friends and family (35% of those with household incomes under £15,600, 32% of those on £15,600-£25,999, 19% of those on £26,000-£51,999 and 17% of those on £52,000 or more). Those on the lowest incomes (under £15,600) were also more likely to say they were finding restrictions difficult (31%, compared with 22% overall).

75% say they meet in person with friends, relatives, neighbours, or work colleagues at least once a week

Q In the last month, how often, if at all, have you met up in person with friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues, for exercise or any other reason?

Pie chart showing that 75% have met up in person with friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues at least once a week

Base: 1,006 respondents age 16+ resident in Scotland; fieldwork = January 26 - February 11 2022

  • Compared with March last year, people were meeting in person more often - 52% were meeting more than once a week, compared with 31% in March 2021.
  • 16-24 year olds were more likely to have met with others more than once a week (65%, vs 52% overall).
  • Disabled people were more likely to say they met others in person less often than once a week or never (35%, compared with 22% of non- disabled people).

Levels of phone or video contact also remain high – 65% have phone or video calls at least a few times a week

Q And in the last month, how often, if at all, have you had phone or videocalls with friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues?

Pie chart showing that 65% have had phone or video calls at least a few times a week

Base: 1,006 respondents age 16+ resident in Scotland; fieldwork = January 26 - February 11 2022

  • The proportion reporting regular (more than weekly) phone or videocalls was similar in February 2022 (65%) to March 2021 (69%).
  • Levels of phone/video contact were similar across age groups.
  • People in the lowest income households and disabled people were in phone/video contact with others less frequently (28% and 25% respectively said they did this less than once a week or never, compared with 20% overall).

A majority of people (60%) feel their relationships with family members are the same as they were pre-pandemic

However, more (26%) say their relationships with family members are stronger compared to before the pandemic than say they are weaker (14%)

Q Compared with before the pandemic, do you feel that your relationships with family members in general are..?

Pie chart showing that 26% say their relationships with family members are stronger, 14% weaker and 60% about the same

Base: 1,006 respondents age 16+ resident in Scotland; fieldwork = January 26 - February 11 2022

Groups more likely than average (14%) to say their relationships with family were weaker compared with pre- pandemic include:

  • Disabled people (21%)
  • Unpaid carers (17%)
  • Those who felt lonely most or all the time in the last week (34%)

Similarly, people were more likely to say that relationships with neighbours had got stronger (22%) than weaker (9%) since the pandemic

Q And you relationships with your neighbours? In general, compared with before the pandemic, do you feel that these are ….

Pie chart showing that 22% say their relationships with neighbours are stronger, 9% weaker and 64% about the same

Base: 1,006 respondents age 16+ resident in Scotland; fieldwork = January 26 - February 11 2022g0?

Groups more likely than average (9%) to say their relationships with neighbours were weaker compared with pre-pandemic include:

  • People on low incomes (15% of those on less than £15,600 a year)
  • People who felt lonely all or most of the time last week (17%)

In contrast, people were more likely to feel relationships with friends had got weaker (25%) than stronger (16%) – although again, the most common response (57%) was that they were about the same

Q And your relationships with friends? In general, compared with before the pandemic, do you feel that these are ….

Pie chart showing that 16% say their relationships with friends are stronger, 25% weaker and 57% about the same

Base: 1,006 respondents age 16+ resident in Scotland; fieldwork = January 26 - February 11 2022

  • Those aged 35-54 were more likely to say relationships with friends were weaker (33%). However, the youngest age group (16-24) were more likely than average to say that their relationships with friends were stronger (27%).
  • People who felt lonely some (39%), or most or all the time (40%), those on low incomes (35%), unpaid carers (32%), and disabled people (32%) were all more likely to say that relationships with friends were weaker.

Similar proportions of those in work felt their relationships with colleagues had got stronger (20%) as said they had got weaker (18%)

Q And you relationships with colleagues or others you work with? In general, compared with before the pandemic, do you feel that these are ….

Pie chart showing that 20% say their relationships with colleagues are stronger, 18% weaker and 56% about the same

Base: 1,006 respondents age 16+ resident in Scotland; fieldwork = January 26 - February 11 2022

  • Those who felt lonely most or all of the time were markedly more likely to report that relationships with colleagues were weaker (36% compared to the 18% average).
  • There were no other notable variations in those who said these relationships were stronger or weaker.

Contact

Email: covid-19.behaviours@gov.scot

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