Intended and Unintended Effects of Nursing Home Isolation Measures
20 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2023
Date Written: December 2022
During the pandemic, most nursing homes implemented isolation measures intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Yet, isolation has had negative mental health effects on residents. These effects were severe and could be long-lasting, and thus may raise the number of non-COVID deaths even more. Using novel cellphone tracking data to estimate isolation measures, I find that isolation measures are predictive of fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths, although the effect on COVID-19 deaths is insignificant. However, these measures are predictive of much higher rates of non-COVID and total deaths in the second year of the pandemic, especially in facilities that have a large proportion of residents with dementia. At the margin, isolation measures are associated with substantially more total deaths. A one standard deviation decrease in isolation in all nursing homes is predictive of 7,305 fewer overall deaths.
Funding Declaration: I thank the Initiative on Enabling Choice Competition in Healthcare at the University of Chicago and the Mercatus Center for support.
Conflict of Interests: None declared.
Keywords: COVID-19, isolation, mental health, nursing homes
JEL Classification: I12, I11, I31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation