Psychological impact of short-term isolation measures in hospitalised patients

J Hosp Infect. 2010 Jun;75(2):124-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2010.01.023. Epub 2010 Apr 10.


Unintended negative effects, such as anxiety and depression, have been demonstrated in patients subjected to infection control strategies, such as isolation for long periods. Yet isolation precautions are mostly short-term. We therefore determined levels of anxiety, depression and quality of life in patients exposed to short-term isolation. In a cross-sectional matched cohort study, performed in a single university hospital, patients isolated for infection control were evaluated with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS-A (Anxiety) and HADS-D (Depression)], Visual Analogue Scale of EQ-5D (EQ VAS) and an isolation evaluation questionnaire within 24-48 h after start of isolation. Two matched controls were selected for each isolated patient. Isolated patients (N=42) and control patients (N=84) had comparable HADS-A (4.5 vs 5.0), HADS-D (4.0 vs 5.0) and EQ VAS (65 vs 62) scores. In multiple regression analysis comorbidity was associated with EQ VAS outcome (P=0.005), whereas all other variables, including being in isolation, were unrelated to HADS and EQ VAS scores. Patients reported positive associations with isolation measures. The quality of care provided by physicians and nurses, as perceived by isolated patients, was not negatively affected in 74% and 71% of patients, respectively. In conclusion, short-term infection control measures do not influence hospitalised patients' levels of anxiety and depression and quality of life. Isolated patients had a positive attitude towards the precautions taken.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety, Separation / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Isolation / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors