The experiences of protective isolation in patients undergoing bone marrow or haematopoietic stem cell transplantation: systematic review and metasynthesis

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Protective isolation is aimed at preventing infection in neutropenic patients, but it is implemented inconsistently across centres and is supported by recommendations with poor evidence. This review and metasynthesis explored the experiences and the psychological implications of protective isolation in patients with haematological malignancies undergoing bone marrow (BMT) or haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). A systematic search of multiple databases for qualitative studies exploring BMT or HSCT patients’ experiences of protective isolation was completed. The metasynthesis followed the meta-aggregative method from the Joanna Briggs Institute, with four procedural steps: (1) comprehensive search, (2) quality appraisal, (3) extraction of relevant findings and (4) synthesis of the identified findings. Twenty-six findings were extracted from 11 articles included in the review. The synthesising process yielded seven categories, aggregated into three synthesised findings: (1) isolation is a source of suffering, (2) isolation can lead to relating with oneself and (3) the person does not close the door to the outside world. This metasynthesis sheds light on patients’ suffering from being isolated, and the possibility of overcoming this suffering thanks to relationships that patients have with themselves and with the external world. Healthcare providers should reconsider this practise in order to avoid unnecessary patient suffering.

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