HAIs take an emotional toll on patients

A study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, examined the effects of healthcare-associated infections beyond physical health.

Researchers conducted a meta-synthesis of qualitative research, assessing 17 studies from five different countries. The studies included patients suffering from five common types of HAIs, and the researchers focused on patient experience.

Researchers found many patients with HAIs experienced an emotional response. Many reported "feeling dirty," feeling like they had "the plague" or "feeling like a leper." Additionally, patients with nearly all colonization or infection types described a fear of transmitting their infection.

Several patients reported provider interactions that caused fear and uncertainty, particularly when frontline providers did not provide adequate information about the causes and consequences of HAIs.

Some patients, especially those colonized by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, were concerned about working in certain professions and had a fear of rejection by coworkers.

"Having an HAI is a significant event in the patient's care journey and subsequent life that is influenced by biology, society and context," said Kay Currie, PhD, the paper's lead author. "Understanding the patient experience can help [healthcare providers] to interact and respond in a constructive way, providing more effective support during this challenging time in a patient's healthcare experience."

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