Single room survey: results

Following my blog last week reflecting on the debate published in the British Medical Journal on “Should hospitals provide all patients with single rooms?”, I asked the same question to Linkedin and Twitter. My informal poll received a total of 37 responses, which is not the largest survey you’ll ever see but probably a meaningful sample size. Overall, 54% of respondents answered ‘Yes’ and 45% answered ‘No’ (Figure).

single room surveyFigure: “Should hospitals provide all patients with single rooms”. Results from 37 respondents in online polls on Linkedin and Twitter.

An interesting feature of the survey was the difference between Linkedin and Twitter, with two third of respondents saying Yes on Linked vs. only 20% on Twitter. I suspect this is explained by the fact that most respondents on Twitter were frontline healthcare workers, who see first-hand the problems caused by placing patients in single rooms when they’d rather be in a bay, or when it compromises their safety.

As with most surveys, the listening to the comments that people make is probably more important than the answers they give, particularly to binary questions such as this one. The poll promoted some useful discussion on Linkedin, with several comments wrestling with the pros and cons of single rooms. I’ve collated a number of Tweets below, which illustrate the view of many frontline staff that a mixture of single rooms and bays is preferable:

  • Healthcare Infection ‏@HealthcareInfec, 4 Dec: “single rooms- a minimum requirement would be a good start & allows flexibility if needed. Certainly >50%.”
  • AllisonClaireBradley ‏@allisoncbradley, 3 Dec: “No for me too. Get so many requests from patients desperate to move out of isolation.”
  • Craig Bradley ‏@CraigBradleyF1, 3 Dec: “NO for so many reasons. We do well with 36%.”
  • Sue Millward @suemillward1, 3 Dec: “Not all patients want to be alone, Some pts need to be watched! So NO.”
  • Gary Thirkell ‏@pollygary 3 Dec: “depends on speciality. Yes for some and no for others. Ability to adapt the room a possibility.”
  • Infection Control ‏@uhcw_inf_con 3 Dec: “No. Isolation has psychological impact on patients & can effect falls risk amongst other things. Need holistic care.”

Clearly, there are some inherent problems with polls, not least the fact that those with strong opinions are more likely to respond and I have no idea how many people saw the survey and decided not to vote. The roughly 50:50 split in opinion on the single room issue is similar to the survey of patients commissioned by the Scottish government, which found that 41% of patients would prefer to be admitted to a single room.

Should hospitals provide single rooms for all patients? Whilst I would definitely prefer a single room if admitted to hospital, there are some strong arguments for a mixture of single rooms and bays in some specialties. So, I agree with the English recommendation of 50% single rooms as a minimum requirement.