Global Study Finds Knowing as Few as Six Neighbours Reduces the Likelihood of Loneliness

76% of Canadian neighbours have experienced loneliness during the Pandemic

TORONTO,ON, December 3, 2020 — Today, Nextdoor released the results of a global study examining how meaningful connections and small acts of kindness impact feelings of loneliness, quality of life, and well-being. 

This study, which was conducted by a team of leading loneliness experts from Brigham Young University in the United States, University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and Swinburne University of Technology In Australia, found that knowing as few as six neighbours reduces the likelihood of feeling lonely and is linked to lowering depression, social anxiety, and financial concerns related to COVID-19.

Loneliness is a growing issue across Canada, one that has been intensified due to COVID-19. When asked what they’ve struggled with most during the pandemic, 46% of Canadians surveyed said not seeing friends and family has been the hardest part, followed by not being able to frequent local businesses (18%) and living alone (15%).

The global report also addressed the impact of performing small acts of kindness for neighbours, finding that these small acts of kindness reduced the likelihood of feeling lonely among study participants. 

These helpful (COVID-19 safe) actions included:

  • Emotional support (23%), such as cheering up or listening to a neighbour; 
  • Tangible support (17%) like mowing a neighbour’s lawn, bringing groceries, or running errands; 
  • Informational support (17%), such as providing advice or helpful information about potential job opportunities, doctors in the area, where to shop, etc.; 
  • Companionship support (23%), such as regularly calling a neighbour or chatting over a fence; and
  • Belonging support (12%), such as contributing to a larger neighbourhood effort like a  neighbourhood cleanup, volunteer drive, or sharing talents/skills with others.

Nextdoor connects neighbours based on proximity and not preference, and the research found that the smallest actions, such as saying hello to a neighbour, allows for more harmony and increased neighbourhood unity — building a world where everyone has a neighbour to rely on.

“I’ve spent my career studying the health effects of loneliness, but one of the things that the entire field struggles with is having ways to potentially reduce risk,” says Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, who was part of the study’s team of top health researchers. “The fact that we were able to find changes—particularly with relatively small, simple steps—is pretty remarkable.”

The findings come at a time when loneliness and social isolation are widely reported to be on the rise. According to a recent Angus Reid study, the percentage of Canadians who can be categorized who suffer from both loneliness and social isolation has increased from 23 per cent of the population to 33 per cent. While the percentage of Canadians suffering from neither has dropped by nearly half, from 22 per cent to 12 per cent.

“Throughout the pandemic I’ve been consistently inspired by neighbours coming together, offering help and providing support to one another during this difficult time. I see this in my own neighbourhood and from neighbours across the country,” said Christopher Doyle, Nextdoor Canada’s Country Manager.  “This study brings to life the value of these seemingly small actions while demonstrating the positive effects that knowing our neighbours can have on our mental health.”

Along with Dr. Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University in the U.S., the research team consisted of leading loneliness experts, including Australia-based Dr. Michelle Lim from Swinburne University and UK-based Dr. Pamela Qualter from University of Manchester.

To get to know your neighbors visit nextdoor.ca. To learn about reducing loneliness in your neighborhood visit go.nextdoor.com/kind-challenge-ca

About the study:

The evaluation of the Nextdoor KIND Challenge was independently undertaken by experts in the field of loneliness research utilizing a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) design, the most rigorous standard for testing effectiveness of treatments and reducing bias. The RCT included randomization to either the KIND Challenge or waitlist control groups, and measurement of change using psychometrically reliable and validated questionnaires. In addition, when examining the KIND Challenge the analyses controlled for important demographic and contextual factors known to impact loneliness, eliminating plausible alternative explanations for change. Therefore, this evaluation was held to thorough and rigorous scientific standards.

The Canadian insights were gathered from a Nextdoor Canada in-platform survey of Nextdoor Canada members. The survey included more than 900 responses and ran in November 2020. 

About Nextdoor, Inc.:

Nextdoor is the neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services. We believe that by bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Nextdoor is used by neighbors in the United States, the United Kingdom, German, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and Canada. Nextdoor is a privately held company based in San Francisco with backing from prominent investors including Benchmark, Shasta Ventures, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Riverwood Capital, Bond, Axel Springer, Comcast Ventures, and others. For additional information and images, go to nextdoor.com/newsroom.

SOURCE Nextdoor, Inc.