Psychological effects of isolation nursing (1): Mood disturbance

Nurs Stand. 2000 Mar 29-Apr 4;14(28):35-8. doi: 10.7748/ns2000.


Aim: This study is part one of a research project aiming to investigate the relationship between mood disturbance and a range of quality of care factors among patients nursed in source isolation in acute and rehabilitation care settings, and to assess the accuracy of clinical staff's recognition of such disturbance.

Method: A small audit-style evaluation of aspects of the overall clinical care of patients nursed in isolation. The findings reported here are the preliminary results of a larger study (Rees et al 2000).

Results: More than half of the sample was suffering from mood disturbance, and depression appeared to be under recognised by staff. There was a trend for higher anxiety scores to be more strongly associated with antidepressant prescription.

Conclusion: Mood disturbance is a significant consequence of source isolation in patients, however healthcare staff have poorer recognition and treatment of depression than anxiety. Nurse education should include identification of disturbed mood, discrimination between depressed and anxious mood, and development of treatment protocols.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Isolation / psychology*
  • Prevalence


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents