SARS control and psychological effects of quarantine, Toronto, Canada

Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Jul;10(7):1206-12. doi: 10.3201/eid1007.030703.

Abstract

As a transmissible infectious disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was successfully contained globally by instituting widespread quarantine measures. Although these measures were successful in terminating the outbreak in all areas of the world, the adverse effects of quarantine have not previously been determined in a systematic manner. In this hypothesis-generating study supported by a convenience sample drawn in close temporal proximity to the period of quarantine, we examined the psychological effects of quarantine on persons in Toronto, Canada. The 129 quarantined persons who responded to a Web-based survey exhibited a high prevalence of psychological distress. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression were observed in 28.9% and 31.2% of respondents, respectively. Longer durations of quarantine were associated with an increased prevalence of PTSD symptoms. Acquaintance with or direct exposure to someone with a diagnosis of SARS was also associated with PTSD and depressive symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / prevention & control*
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / psychology
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quarantine / psychology*
  • SARS Virus
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology