The psychological well-being of people in a COVID-19 supervised quarantine facility: A mixed methods study

David Mitchell, Dan Bressington, Danielle Esler, Kylie Straube, Laura Noel-Gough, Lisa Vermeulen, Dianne Stephens

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What is known on the subject?: Supervised Quarantine has been shown to impact the psychological well-being of those in quarantine both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in previous pandemics. There are few studies regarding the psychological impact of supervised quarantine for the purpose of COVID-19 mitigation. There is little research regarding the psychological well-being of professionals maintaining quarantine, despite the fact they risk potential psychological distress. 

What the paper adds to existing knowledge?: This paper addresses the paucity of knowledge regarding the psychological well-being of those undergoing quarantine in a purpose-built facility. The quarantined study population involved uniquely domestic arrivals and also professionals maintaining quarantine. Lack of control, isolation and miscommunication were perceived as challenging mental well-being. 

What are the implications for practice?: Although psychological distress in Domestic arrivals appeared low, there are still identifiable stresses on mental well-being. Mental health workers need to be cognizant that point entry to COVID-19 quarantine (Domestic vs. International as well as specific regions) may influence risk of psychological distress. Mental Health nurses supporting those in quarantine should afford quarantined individuals a degree of choice, establish regular clear communication and consider how to establish peer support mechanisms within the quarantine environment. 

Abstract: Introduction: Supervised quarantine may compromise psychological well-being. There is equivocal evidence regarding psychological distress in compulsory supervised quarantine facilities. 

Aims: To evaluate the mental well-being of people undergoing and working in a supervised COVID-19 quarantine facility. 

Method: Mixed methodology was used, including a cross-sectional analysis of psychological distress (DASS-21) and individual semi-structured interviews (10 professionals maintaining quarantine and 10 quarantined persons). 

Results: Overall levels of psychological distress were low. Those quarantining from Victoria had significantly lower depression scores compared to all other departure points. Qualitative analysis identified distress being linked to a lack of control, isolation and miscommunication. 

Discussion: Quarantine was associated with low levels of psychological distress. This was lower in people travelling from Victoria, a state where there were higher rates of infections and restrictions. Interviews showed that psychological distress was conceptualized as being associated with supervised quarantine, but participants recognized the overall importance of quarantine. 

Implications for Practice: Mental health professionals supporting quarantined people should consider original departure points may predict levels of psychological distress. Implementing ways of gaining control through affording choice, improving communication channels and establishing peer support networks within quarantine settings may help maintain mental well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-962
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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