• coping;
  • hospitalisation psychological effects;
  • source isolation

Gammon J. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1998; 4: 84–96

Analysis of the stressful effects of hospitalisation and source isolation on coping and

psychological constructs

This quantitative research has attempted to investigate the psychological effects of hospitalisation and source isolation, and assessed whether were they influential in affecting a patient’s cognitive coping with these two stressors. The research evaluated whether isolating a person because of an infection was a more stressful event (causing negative effects on four measured psychological constructs) than routine hospital admission. The research was conducted in two large District General Hospitals and one elderly care hospital. Individuals admitted to one of the research sites, and who satisfied the sample criteria, were adopted. The total number of subjects was 40. The research design was quasi experimental (post test only control group design), using a quantitative approach. Following a period of hospitalisation or isolation subjects in the control group (Group 1, hospitalised subjects, n=20) and subjects in the experimental group (Group 2, isolated subjects, n=20) were given the following to complete: the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale1, the Health Illness (Powerlessness) Questionnaire2, and the Self Esteem Scale3. These measured four psychological constructs: anxiety, depression, self esteem and sense of control. The quantitative data generated were analysed using descriptive statistics and the Student’s t-test. The findings confirmed and validated previous research that hospitalisation results in many negative feelings that have detrimental effects on psychological well being and coping. However, more significantly, infected subjects who were isolated demonstrated feelings of anxiety, and depression that were significantly higher, and feelings of self esteem and sense of control that were significantly lower than those demonstrated by hospitalised subjects. Thus it could be argued that isolation has an even greater negative effect on their coping. Further research therefore needs to examine how specific nurse interventions can ameliorate the identified negative effects of isolation and so facilitate effective coping and positive psychological well being.