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Doctors underestimate 2 m social distancing more than other health care workers
  1. Iona Lennie1,
  2. Smyrna Muralidharan1,
  3. Mary Rimbi1,
  4. Angus McFadyen2,
  5. Mark Crowther3,
  6. Chris Isles1
  1. 1 Medicine, Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway, UK
  2. 2 akm-stats, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3 Haematology, Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Iona Lennie; iona.lennie{at}

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Social distancing has emerged as a key measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19.1 Limitation of virus transmission is particularly important in healthcare settings where staff are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 compared with the general public.2 A systematic review3 suggested a halving in the risk of transmission for every additional metre over 1 m between an infected individual and a susceptible host. Currently, in the UK, 2 m social distancing is recommended wherever possible.1

Given that most interactions in the hospital workplace require individuals to determine 2 m without the help of visual cues, we aimed to investigate the ability of hospital staff to estimate a 2 m social distance; to determine whether the ability to judge a 2 m distance was related to age, gender, height or staff group; to explore the possibility that those likely to be familiar with the metric system (ie, younger participants or those who provided height in metres) might estimate a 2 m distance more accurately; and to establish whether provision of visual aids improved accuracy. …

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  • Contributors MC had the idea for the study; IL, SM and MR undertook all the measurements; AMcF was responsible for the statistical analyses; IL and CI wrote the first draft; all authors contributed to the final draft.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.