The Impact of Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection on Patients' Prevention Behaviors

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2017 Nov;38(11):1351-1357. doi: 10.1017/ice.2017.208. Epub 2017 Sep 26.


OBJECTIVE To determine the impact of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (RCDI) on patient behaviors following illness. METHODS Using a computer algorithm, we searched the electronic medical records of 7 Chicago-area hospitals to identify patients with RCDI (2 episodes of CDI within 15 to 56 days of each other). RCDI was validated by medical record review. Patients were asked to complete a telephone survey. The survey included questions regarding general health, social isolation, symptom severity, emotional distress, and prevention behaviors. RESULTS In total, 119 patients completed the survey (32%). On average, respondents were 57.4 years old (standard deviation, 16.8); 57% were white, and ~50% reported hospitalization for CDI. At the time of their most recent illness, patients rated their diarrhea as high severity (58.5%) and their exhaustion as extreme (30.7%). Respondents indicated that they were very worried about getting sick again (41.5%) and about infecting others (31%). Almost 50% said that they have washed their hands more frequently (47%) and have increased their use of soap and water (45%) since their illness. Some of these patients (22%-32%) reported eating out less, avoiding certain medications and public areas, and increasing probiotic use. Most behavioral changes were unrelated to disease severity. CONCLUSION Having had RCDI appears to increase prevention-related behaviors in some patients. While some behaviors are appropriate (eg, handwashing), others are not supported by evidence of decreased risk and may negatively impact patient quality of life. Providers should discuss appropriate prevention behaviors with their patients and should clarify that other behaviors (eg, eating out less) will not affect their risk of future illness. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2017;38:1351-1357.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clostridioides difficile*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / prevention & control*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Isolation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult