The corona crisis caused many countries to instruct their citizens to stay at home and engage in “social distancing” to reduce the infection rate. This has caused a drastic change to our lifestyle and social contacts. This study investigates the impact of the corona crisis on the satisfaction of social contacts in Belgium.
Study participants included a subsample of adults aged ≥18 years (n=510) of the Belgian health interview survey 2018, who also participated in a follow-up study in July 2020. Information on satisfaction with social contacts was measured twice with the same instrument. A multilevel logistic regression was used to analyse how the proportion of participants indicating they are unsatisfied with their social contacts had changed over time.
Between 2018 and July 2020 the prevalence of being unsatisfied with social contacts increased from 10.0% to 19.0%. We observed important differences in the change in this indicator between the 3 Belgian regions. A significant increase was observed in Flanders (OR 3.6; 95% CI 1.8-7.1) and Brussels (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.2-7.5), whereas this was not the case in Wallonia (OR 1.1; 95% CI 0.5-2.5). No relation was observed with age, gender and education. Strictly respecting the measures about the social bubble was inversely related with being unsatisfied with social contacts (OR 0.5; 95%CI 0.2-0.9).
There is a substantial increase in people being unsatisfied with their social contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium. Regional variations could be related to cultural factors in the way the crisis was perceived, but were not explained by differences in non-compliance of the “social bubble”-rule.