Acceptability of temporary suspension of visiting during norovirus outbreaks: investigating patient, visitor and public opinion

K. Currie, Lesley Price, E. Curran, D. Bunyan, C. Knussen

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Noroviruses are a leading cause of outbreaks globally and the most common cause of service disruption due to ward closures. Temporary suspension of visiting (TSV) is increasingly a recommended public health measure to reduce exposure, transmission and impact during norovirus outbreaks; however, preventing patient–visitor contact may contravene the ethos of person-centred care, and public acceptability of this measure is not known.

To investigate the acceptability of TSV during norovirus outbreaks from the perspectives of patients, visitors and the wider public.

Cross-sectional survey of patients (N = 153), visitors (N = 175) and the public (N = 224) in three diverse areas in Scotland. Health Belief Model constructs were applied to understand ratings of acceptability of TSV during norovirus outbreaks, and to determine associations between these levels and various predictor variables.

The majority (84.6%) of respondents indicated that the possible benefits of TSV are greater than the possible disadvantages. Conversely, the majority (70%) of respondents disagreed that TSV ‘is wrong as it ignores people's rights to have contact with family and friends’. The majority (81.6%) of respondents agreed that TSV would be more acceptable if exceptions were made for seriously ill or dying patients. Correlational analysis demonstrated that overall acceptability was positively related to perceived severity (r = 0.65), identified benefits (r = 0.54) and implementing additional communication strategies (r = 0.60); acceptability was negatively related to potential barriers (r = -0.49).

There is greater service user and public support for the use of TSV than concerns around impinging upon patients' rights to have visitors. TSV should be considered as an acceptable infection control measure that could be implemented consistently during norovirus outbreaks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Norovirus outbreak
  • suspended visiting
  • acceptability
  • health beliefs


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