During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, quarantine has been used as a public health strategy to reduce disease transmission. Quarantine is defined as the separation of individuals who may have been exposed to an infectious disease from the rest of the population to determine if they are ill and to reduce their risk of infecting others. While quarantine can broadly serve the public good, it is also associated with psychological challenges for those quarantined, their loved ones, and the healthcare workers caring for them.
Quarantine can expose individuals to stressors both during and after the quarantine period and may result in adverse acute and long-term psychological outcomes. Effects of quarantine can include symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression, and responses such as fear, anger/irritability, insomnia, fatigue, detachment and avoidance behaviors, impaired concentration, and diminished work performance.
Much of the weight of professional, administrative, political, and programmatic factors of quarantine rests upon public health leaders. The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS), one of the nation’s oldest and most highly regarded, academic-based organizations dedicated to advancing trauma-informed knowledge, leadership and methodologies, has created a fact sheet as a resource for Public Health Leaders. Click Here to view.
More information on the nature of stressors during and after quarantine, as well as guidance on how to provide care that promotes mental wellbeing, can be found on these resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) Manual: https://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/manual/index.asp
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS):
Brooks, SK et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet. Published online February 26, 2020. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext#%20