Experiences and needs of persons living with a household member infected with SARS-CoV-2: A mixed method study
Verberk JDM., Anthierens SA., Tonkin-Crine S., Goossens H., Kinsman J., de Hoog MLA., Bielicki JA., Bruijning-Verhagen PCJL., Gobat NH.
Background Households are important sites for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and preventive measures are recommended. This study aimed to 1) investigate the impact of living with a person infected with SARS-CoV-2; 2) understand how household members implemented infection control recommendations in their home; and 3) identify the information and support needs of household members. Methods For this observational mixed-methods study, households with a person with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were recruited via drive-through testing sites of Municipal Health Services, healthcare worker screening or hospital emergency visits in the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands and via primary care physicians, hospital emergency visits or preoperative screening in the University Hospital of Antwerp, Belgium. We recorded household characteristics, including characteristics of all household members, together with their views on prevention measures. In a subset of households one adult household member was asked to participate in an interview investigating their views on preventive measures. Survey data were analysed using descriptive statistics and interview data by rapid framework analysis. A triangulation protocol was used to integrate findings. Results Thirty-four households (120 household members) were included in the quantitative survey. Twenty-two households were invited to be interviewed, of which 18 completed an interview (response 81.8%). Survey data showed that almost all households implemented some preventive measures, the use of face masks being least frequently reported. Measures taken depended on what was physically possible, the perceived severity of illness of the index patient and to what extent household members were willing to limit social interaction. Respondents did not believe in the effectiveness of wearing face masks within the house, and from the interviews this was explained by media coverage of face masks, impracticality and the stigma associated with wearing masks. Interviewees reported that quarantine had a high emotional burden and wished to have more information about the exact duration of quarantine, their own COVID-19 status, symptoms and when to seek medical help. Conclusion People were willing to implement prevention measures, however actual adherence depended on perceived severity of illness and the perceived risk of becoming infected. Homes are social environments and recommendations for infection prevention should account for this context. Incorporating our findings into policy making could provide households with more relevant and actionable advice.