Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of home quarantine during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Toronto in 2003.
Design: Qualitative descriptive design.
Sample: Stratified random sampling techniques were used to generate a list of potential participants, who varied in terms of gender and closeness of exposure to someone with suspected SARS (contact level). Twenty-one individuals participated in the study.
Measurements: All interviews were audiotaped and followed a semistructured interview guide. Participants were invited to describe their experience of quarantine in detail including their advice for Public Health.
Results: The experience followed a trajectory of stages beginning before quarantine and ending after quarantine. Despite individual differences, common themes of uncertainty, isolation, and coping intersected the data.
Conclusions: Public Health has a dual role of monitoring compliance and providing support to people in quarantine. This study has implications for public health policy and practice in planning for future public health emergencies in terms of the information and the resources required to mount an effective response.