Intended and Unintended Effects of Nursing Home Isolation Measures

20 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2023

See all articles by Vitor Melo

Vitor Melo

Clemson University; Mercatus Center; Initiative on Enabling Choice and Competition at the University of Chicago

Date Written: December 2022

Abstract

During the pandemic, most nursing homes implemented isolation measures intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Yet, isolation has had negative mental health effects on residents. These effects were severe and could be long-lasting, and thus may raise the number of non-COVID deaths even more. Using novel cellphone tracking data to estimate isolation measures, I find that isolation measures are predictive of fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths, although the effect on COVID-19 deaths is insignificant. However, these measures are predictive of much higher rates of non-COVID and total deaths in the second year of the pandemic, especially in facilities that have a large proportion of residents with dementia. At the margin, isolation measures are associated with substantially more total deaths. A one standard deviation decrease in isolation in all nursing homes is predictive of 7,305 fewer overall deaths.

Note:
Funding Declaration: I thank the Initiative on Enabling Choice Competition in Healthcare at the University of Chicago and the Mercatus Center for support.

Conflict of Interests: None declared.

Keywords: COVID-19, isolation, mental health, nursing homes

JEL Classification: I12, I11, I31

Suggested Citation

Melo, Vitor, Intended and Unintended Effects of Nursing Home Isolation Measures (December 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4307289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4307289

Vitor Melo (Contact Author)

Clemson University ( email )

Clemson, SC 29631
United States

Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Initiative on Enabling Choice and Competition at the University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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