New mothers' experiences of social disruption and isolation during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in Hong Kong

Nurs Health Sci. 2010 Jun;12(2):198-204. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2018.2010.00520.x.


In Hong Kong during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak of 2003, sustained uncertainty caused daily stress for residents for > 3 months. Expectant women experienced unexpected social disruption and isolation within their day-to-day life that have not been described in their own voice. The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of women who became mothers during the outbreak and the ways in which these experiences impacted their early post-partum mothering. A phenomenological research design was chosen. The participants' responses then led the interview process. As the women's experiences had many similarities, saturation was reached after eight interviews. Four themes emerged: living with uncertainty, intense vigilance, isolation, and disrupted expectations. The participants spoke of disrupted daily routines as they tried to eliminate their risk of contracting this disease, including relationship difficulties with their spouse. None of the women had the birth experience they had hoped for because of changes in hospital practices.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / psychology*
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Uncertainty