Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Original article

Vol. 152 No. 2122 (2022)

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adherence to infection prevention and control measures between 2019 and 2021 in Swiss sentinel private practices: repeated cross-sectional surveys

  • Iza Lehmann
  • Arnaud Peytremann
  • Yolanda Mueller
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30170


AIMS OF THE STUDY: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in health care settings, including primary care. We aimed to describe how it influenced adherence to infection prevention and control measures in private practices in the Swiss sentinel network (Sentinella).

METHOD: An online cross-sectional survey was sent to the 181 Sentinella practices in 2021 that included questions on the practice’s spatial organisation, staff habits and vaccination coverage, ventilation, mask wearing, hand hygiene, as well as triage and separation of patients with suspected infection. Results were compared with those of a 2019 survey conducted in the same setting.

RESULTS: We received 127 valid questionnaires (70.2% response rate). At the time of the study, SARS-CoV-2 vaccination was underway among physicians (51.3%). Between 2019 and 2021, an absence of specific recommendations on mask wearing for staff (55.7%) changed into a recommendation for continuous wearing (93.7%); hand hygiene improved, especially upon arrival at the practice (63.9% vs 85.8%; p <0.001) and before examining patients (74.6% vs 88.2%; p <0.010); impossibility of distancing symptomatic patients dropped (27.9% vs 3.9%, p <0.001); and ventilation and cleaning improved (p <0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic led to important changes in adherence to the recommended IPC measures.


  1. Peytremann A, Senn N, Mueller Y. Infection prevention and control measures in practices of the Swiss sentinel network during seasonal influenza epidemics. J Hosp Infect. 2020 Dec;106(4):786–92.
  2. Suter P, Kermode T, Clair C, Mueller Y, Senn N. Preventive and protective measures reducing influenza transmission in general practice: a systematic review. BJGP Open. 2019;3(3). Epub 2019/10/04. doi: PubMed PMID: 31581114; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC6970581.
  3. Mohr NM, Harland KK, Krishnadasan A, Eyck PT, Mower WR, Willey J, et al. Diagnosed and Undiagnosed COVID-19 in US Emergency Department Health Care Personnel: A Cross-sectional Analysis. Ann Emerg Med. 2021;78(1):27-34. Epub 2021/03/28. doi: PubMed PMID: 33771413; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC7746085.
  4. Müller Chabloz Y, Haller-Hester D, Ziegler L. Surveillance épidémiologique du covid-19: stratégie sentinella vs coronella. Rev Med Suisse. 2020 May;16(695):1123. Available from:
  5. Mathys P. ali. e. 5e édition actualisée : janvier 2018. OFCL, Diffusion des publications fédérales. 2018. Available from:
  6. Sotomayor-Castillo C, Nahidi S, Li C, Hespe C, Burns PL, Shaban RZ. General practitioners' knowledge, preparedness, and experiences of managing COVID-19 in Australia. Infect Dis Health. 2021;26(3):166-72. Epub 2021/03/08. doi: PubMed PMID: 33676878; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC7891055.
  7. Buitrago-Garcia D, Egli-Gany D, Counotte MJ, Hossmann S, Imeri H, Ipekci AM, et al. Occurrence and transmission potential of asymptomatic and presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections: A living systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Med. 2020;17(9):e1003346. Epub 2020/09/23. doi: PubMed PMID: 32960881; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC7508369.
  8. Kronbichler A, Kresse D, Yoon S, Lee KH, Effenberger M, Shin JI. Asymptomatic patients as a source of COVID-19 infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Infect Dis. 2020;98:180-6. Epub 2020/06/21. doi: PubMed PMID: 32562846; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC7832751.
  9. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures for primary care, including general practitioner practices, dental clinics and pharmacy settings: first update. ECDC: Stockholm. 2020. Available from:
  10. CDC. Non-Hospital Settings and COVID-19: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; [02.04.2021]. Available from:
  11. COVID-19: plan de protection de la FMH pour l’exploitation des cabinets médicaux - État au 3 novembre 2020. FMH. 2020. Available from:
  12. Ordonnance 3 sur les mesures destinées à lutter contre le coronavirus (COVID-19) du 19 juin 2020 (Etat le 1er mars 2021). Fedlex (online). 2021. Available from:
  13. Wee LEI, Conceicao EP, Tan JY, Magesparan KD, Amin IBM, Ismail BBS, et al. Unintended consequences of infection prevention and control measures during COVID-19 pandemic. Am J Infect Control. 2021;49(4):469-77. Epub 2020/11/07. doi: PubMed PMID: 33157180; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC7610096.
  14. Grippe saisonnière de l’hiver 2020/2021: L’essentiel sur la vaccination durant la pandémie de COVID-19. OFSP-Bulletin 40/20: Département fédéral de l’intérieur DFI, Office fédéral de la santé publique OFSP, Unité de direction Santé publique. 2021. Available from:
  15. Savoy M, Haller DM, Rytz R, Mueller Y. Gestion de la crise dans les cabinets de médecins du réseau Sentinella selon une étude observationnelle COVID-19 et téléconsultations. Prim Hosp Care Med Int Gen. 2021;21(02):41–5.
  16. Peters A, Borzykowski T, Tartari E, Kilpatrick C, Mai SH, Allegranzi B, et al. “Clean care for all-it’s in your hands”: the May 5th, 2019 World Health Organization SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2019 Apr;8(1):64.
  17. Müller Y, Rytz R, Lehman I, Peytremann A, Price HM. Infection prevention and control measures implemented in Sentinella practices in 2019 and 2021. Center for Primary Care and Public Health (Unisanté), University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Version 1.0 of the licensed dataset (January 2022), provided by the Unisanté Research Data Repository. doi:
  18. Adlhoch C, Mook P, Lamb F, Ferland L, Melidou A, Amato-Gauci AJ, et al. Very little influenza in the WHO European Region during the 2020/21 season, weeks 40 2020 to 8 2021. Euro Surveill. 2021;26(11). Epub 2021/03/20. doi: PubMed PMID: 33739256; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC7976381.
  19. Friemel TN, Geber S, Eisenegger M, Vogler D. Covid-Norms. Monitoring and Analyzing Preventive Behavior. University of Zurich. 2021. Available from:
  20. Hermann M. COVID-19-Prävention: Informationsstand, Einstellungen und Verhalten In: AG SD, editor. 2021. p. 24. Available from:
  21. Houghton C, Meskell P, Delaney H, Smalle M, Glenton C, Booth A, et al. Barriers and facilitators to healthcare workers' adherence with infection prevention and control (IPC) guidelines for respiratory infectious diseases: a rapid qualitative evidence synthesis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;4(4):Cd013582. Epub 2020/04/22. doi: PubMed PMID: 32315451; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC7173761.

Most read articles by the same author(s)