The Beatles’ song “Eleanor Rigby” portrays both Eleanor and Father Mackenzie as experiencing loneliness: Eleanor dies alone, and Father Mackenzie delivers a sermon that goes unheard, resulting in nobody being saved.

Loneliness is a prevalent issue worldwide. The BBC Survey has documented a prevalence of up to 40% loneliness among young adults globally. In South-East Asia, approximately 10% of adolescents experience persistent loneliness, while in the Middle East, the figure rises to 15% among adolescents. Among young and middle-aged adults in Northern European countries, the prevalence of loneliness is around 3%, whereas among older adults in these countries, it increases to 5%. In Eastern European countries, the prevalence rates are 7.5% among young adults, 9.6% among middle-aged adults, and 21.3% among older adults. In a study conducted in China with 35,254 participants aged 60 and above, 31% reported experiencing loneliness sometimes, often, or always.

Persistent loneliness not only has high prevalence but also poses significant health risks, including increased chances of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and premature mortality. Additionally, it negatively impacts overall well-being. Consequently, persistent loneliness becomes a critical public health concern, particularly during infectious disease outbreaks such as Covid-19.

While theologians and clerics have long addressed the topic of loneliness, bioethicists have only recently started exploring it. This workshop aims to bridge the gap between bioethicists and religious scholars and clerics, fostering collaborative discussions on effective approaches to address loneliness in Hong Kong. Recognizing the significance of religion in individuals’ lives, the workshop will specifically focus on loneliness and solitude within the context of Christianity. The ultimate goal is to optimize public health interventions for preventing and mitigating loneliness, considering Alfred North Whitehead’s assertion that “Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness.”


Prof Mark Cherry
Dr. Patricia A. Hayes Professor in Applied Ethics and Professor of Philosophy, St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas

Dr Zohar Lederman
Clinical Practitioner, Department of Emergency Medicine, SClinMed, HKUMed
Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law

Prof Carl Hildebrand
Assistant Professor, Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, SClinMed, HKUMed
Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law

Dr Levi Checketts
Assistant Professor
Department of Religion & Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University


Time Event Speakers
12:30-13:00 Why Loneliness, why Hong Kong, and why Religion? Dr Zohar Lederman

Department of Emergency Medicine, SClinMed, HKUMed

13:00-13:30 Christianity and the Experience of Loneliness Professor Mark Cherry

The Dr Patricia A. Hayes Professor in Applied Ethics Department of Philosophy, St. Edward’s University

13:30-14:00 How Philosophical Models of Friendship Can Help Advance Social Connection and Address the Problem of Loneliness


Professor Carl Hildebrand

Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, SClinMed, HKUMed

14:00-14:30 AI Against Loneliness: A Catholic Perspective Dr Levi Checketts

Department of Religion & Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University

14:30-15:00 Open discussion

Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, HKUMed
Department of Emergency Medicine, HKUMed
Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, HKU

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  • Seminar
Date & Time
  • 7 Mar, 2024 12:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Rm 608, 6/F, William M W Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road

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