School closures and influenza: systematic review of epidemiological studies.

Jackson, C; Vynnycky, E; Hawker, J; Olowokure, B; Mangtani, P; (2013) School closures and influenza: systematic review of epidemiological studies. BMJ open, 3 (2). ISSN 2044-6055 DOI:

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OBJECTIVE To review the effects of school closures on pandemic and seasonal influenza outbreaks. DESIGN Systematic review. DATA SOURCES MEDLINE and EMBASE, reference lists of identified articles, hand searches of key journals and additional papers from the authors' collections. STUDY SELECTION Studies were included if they reported on a seasonal or pandemic influenza outbreak coinciding with a planned or unplanned school closure. RESULTS Of 2579 papers identified through MEDLINE and EMBASE, 65 were eligible for inclusion in the review along with 14 identified from other sources. Influenza incidence frequently declined after school closure. The effect was sometimes reversed when schools reopened, supporting a causal role for school closure in reducing incidence. Any benefits associated with school closure appeared to be greatest among school-aged children. However, as schools often closed late in the outbreak or other interventions were used concurrently, it was sometimes unclear how much school closure contributed to the reductions in incidence. CONCLUSIONS School closures appear to have the potential to reduce influenza transmission, but the heterogeneity in the data available means that the optimum strategy (eg, the ideal length and timing of closure) remains unclear.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Research Centre: Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
PubMed ID: 23447463


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