A cross-sectional matched control study was designed to investigate the impact of hospitalization and MRSA isolation on the psychological functioning of older adults undergoing rehabilitation.Twenty-two MRSA-positive and 20 MRSA-negative older adults completed standardized measures relating to depression, anxiety and anger. Both groups of participants had higher scores for anger than those estimated for community-based older adults. The level of depressive and anxious symptoms amongst the isolated group was significantly higher than that found for the MRSA-negative group or estimates for community-based older adults. There was no correlation between length of hospitalization or isolation and the outcome measures. The results suggest that, amongst older adult inpatients, isolation has a negative impact on mood in addition to that resulting from hospitalization. Those involved in caring for hospitalized older adults should be made aware of the potential psychological distress of isolation, and alternative approaches to isolation (such as hand hygiene, antibiotic restriction, surveillance) should be used in the management of MRSA whenever possible. Future studies should examine the best ways of managing the detrimental effects of isolation.
Copyright 2001 The Hospital Infection Society.