Appropriate attitude promotes mask wearing in spite of a significant experience of varying discomfort.Infect Dis Health. 2021 05; 26(2):145-151.ID
Despite increasing evidence to support mask effectiveness in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, there is still raging controversy regarding the use of masks. Evaluation of public perceptions, attitudes and the individuals' experience towards mask-wearing is integral to ensuring reasonable compliance and allows authorities to address concerns held by the population.
A cross-sectional survey of lay-people was conducted within a high volume tertiary level institution in Singapore, from 16 October to 16 November 2020. Surveys administered evaluated five questions: 1) duration of mask wear per day, 2) mask-type used, 3) perceived necessity, 4) discomfort level experienced and 5) causes for discomfort.
Out of 402 respondents, 67.2% primarily wore disposable surgical masks. 72% felt mask-wearing was necessary to control COVID-19 transmission. 78.4% reported discomfort while wearing masks, with mean discomfort levels of 4.21 out of 10. Impairment to breathing and communication difficulties were the most common discomforts faced. Younger respondents complained of higher incidence of dermatological issues and sweating (p < 0.05). Respondents who wore masks for longer duration reported higher incidence of dermatological issues (p = 0.001) and sweating (p = 0.032).
CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE
Even with an available vaccine, adjunctive public health measures such as mask-wearing will likely continue in order to curb COVID-19 transmission. Experience from past pandemics is likely to propagate self-protective behavior within a community. Our study identified several common mask-wearing discomforts, allowing respective organizations valuable market feedback for research and development. With appropriate public attitudes, effective mask-wearing compliance can be attained in a concerted effort against the coronavirus.