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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern: Study Suggests Visitor Restrictions Reduce Viral Respiratory Infections Among Hospitalized Children

Visitor restrictions during winter months were associated with a significant decrease in the transmission of viral respiratory infections among hospitalized children, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

“Our findings support consideration of year-round visitor restrictions and policies to reduce the transmission of healthcare-associated viral respiratory infections in children’s hospitals,” said first author Dr. Hawa Forkpa.

Viral respiratory infections (VRIs) — such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus — are frequently diagnosed in children’s hospitals and are associated with increased mortality rates and healthcare costs. As such, nearly 90 percent of children’s hospitals implement visitor restriction policies and practices (VRPPs) during winter months to reduce the spread of infections from visitors to patients.

However, there has been a lack of evidence to support the use of VRPPs, explained Dr. Larry Kociolek, who led the study.

The investigators discovered that the VRI transmission index was 59 percent lower during the winter months in which VRPPs were in place, compared to time periods when VRPPs were not. Furthermore, the study found that transmission of VRIs frequently occurs during non-winter months, suggesting that year-round VRPPs may be beneficial.

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