Risk factors of hikikomori among office workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A prospective online survey

Hiroaki Kubo, Ryoko Katsuki, Kazumasa Horie, Itsuki Yamakawa, Masaru Tateno, Naotaka Shinfuku, Norman Sartorius, Shinji Sakamoto, Takahiro A. Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The global pandemic of COVID-19 has forced people to restrict their outings. In Japan, self-restraint behavior (SRB) has been requested by the government, and some of those decreasing their outings may shift to pathological social withdrawal; hikikomori. The purpose of this study was to examine the risk factors of hikikomori conducting an online prospective survey. An online survey was conducted in June 2020 and December 2020; (1) SRB-related indicators (degree of SRB, motivation for SRB, stigma and self-stigma toward COVID-19, anxiety and depressive feelings toward COVID-19) and (2) general mental health (hikikomori tendency, depressive symptoms, modern type depression (MTD) tendency, internet addiction) were collected. A cross-lagged effects model was performed to examine the association between these variables. Lack of emotional support and lack of socialization in June 2020 increased isolation in December 2020. Besides, MTD and hikikomori interacted with each other. Interestingly, although hikikomori tendency increased depressive tendencies, SRB itself did not have a significant path on any mental health-related variables. Poor interpersonal relationships, rather than SRB per se, are suggested to be a risk factor for increased isolation among office workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. Appropriate early interventions such as interpersonal or emotional support may prevent the transition to pathological hikikomori. The association between MTD and hikikomori seems to reveal the interesting possibility that MTD is a gateway to increased risk of hikikomori, and that hikikomori is a gateway to MTD as well. Future research is required to elucidate the relationship between hikikomori and MTD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23842-23860
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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