In a new study, researchers found that quarantine produces negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger.
They find that these psychological impacts can be long-lasting.
In light of this, the researchers provide key messages on mitigation, particularly around the provision of information and the duration of the quarantine.
The research was conducted by a team from King’s College London.
As a means to control the current COVID-19 outbreak, many countries have asked people to isolate themselves at home or in a dedicated quarantine facility
As a means to control the current COVID-19 outbreak, many countries have asked people to isolate themselves at home or in a dedicated quarantine facility.
UK politicians and policymakers have stated that quarantine decisions must be based on scientific evidence about the virus itself, but also the possible social and economic impacts of quarantine.
The new study reviewed research on the psychological impact of previous disease outbreaks.
The researchers analyzed 24 studies, which were done across 10 countries and included people with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Ebola, H1N1 influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and equine influenza.
They found a wide range of psychological impacts from quarantine, including post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, feelings of anger and fear, and substance misuse.
Some of these, particularly post-traumatic stress symptoms, were shown to be long-standing.
In addition, longer quarantines were linked to poorer mental health.
Those with a history of psychiatric disorder and health-care workers suffered greater psychological impacts due to quarantine.
The team says going into quarantine is an isolating and often fearful experience and our study found that it has negative psychological effects.
The finding that these effects can still be detected months or years down the line—albeit from a small number of studies—is of particular concern and indicates that measures should be put in place during the quarantine planning process to minimize these psychological impacts.
This research suggests that health-care workers deserve special attention from their managers and colleagues and those with pre-existing poor mental health would need extra support during the quarantine.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Samantha Brooks from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.
The study is published in The Lancet.
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