Purpose: To explore the experience of being on quarantine for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) with a focus on the relationship between perceived risk of contracting SARS and reported compliance with the quarantine order and protocols.
Design: Descriptive, qualitative.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with people who had been quarantined during the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003. Data analysis was completed using an iterative and collaborative approach of reading and re-reading the transcribed interviews, identifying common themes, and comparing and contrasting the data.
Findings: To varying extents, participants wavered between fear and denial about their risk of contracting or spreading SARS. Reported compliance with the actual quarantine order was high. However, within households quarantine protocols were followed unevenly.
Conclusions: This research indicates the need for greater credibility in public health communications to increase compliance with quarantine protocols and to contain outbreaks of new and deadly infectious diseases.