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Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation

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Psychiatry of Pandemics


Breaking up physical contact is the most effective way of breaking the transmission chain of infection. Measures used to reduce contact and minimize exposure are known as social distancing. Several social distancing measures have been successfully practiced throughout history and in modern medicine, including placing in isolation the infected individuals with an active illness and placing in quarantine individuals potentially exposed to the infective agent. Other measures include shelter-in-place, cordon sanitaire, or protective sequestration. Each of those measures comes with complex legal, ethical, and logistical challenges, but also mental health challenges associated with isolation and uncertainty. Taking psychological aspects of social distancing into account when planning and implementing social distancing and taking measures to reduce perceived isolation and to address uncertainties may pay off short-term, by motivating participation and enhancing adherence, as well as long-term, by lowering the incidence of PTSD, anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.

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Correspondence to Damir Huremović .

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Huremović, D. (2019). Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation. In: Huremović, D. (eds) Psychiatry of Pandemics. Springer, Cham.

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