Mask use, risk-mitigation behaviours and pandemic fatigue during the COVID-19 pandemic in five cities in Australia, the UK and USA: A cross-sectional survey.Int J Infect Dis. 2021 May; 106:199-207.IJ
To determine patterns of mask wearing and other infection prevention behaviours, over two time periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, in cities where mask wearing was not a cultural norm.
A cross-sectional survey of masks and other preventive behaviours in adults aged ≥18 years was conducted in five cities: Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; London, UK; and Phoenix and New York, USA. Data were analysed according to the epidemiology of COVID-19, mask mandates and a range of predictors of mask wearing.
The most common measures used were avoiding public areas (80.4%), hand hygiene (76.4%), wearing masks (71.8%) and distancing (67.6%). Over 40% of people avoided medical facilities. These measures decreased from March-July 2020. Pandemic fatigue was associated with younger age, low perceived severity of COVID-19 and declining COVID-19 prevalence. Predictors of mask wearing were location (US, UK), mandates, age <50 years, education, having symptoms and knowing someone with COVID-19. Negative experiences with mask wearing and low perceived severity of COVID-19 reduced mask wearing. Most respondents (98%) believed that hand washing and distancing were necessary, and 80% reported no change or stricter adherence to these measures when wearing masks.
Pandemic mitigation measures were widely reported across all cities, but decreased between March and July 2020. Pandemic fatigue was more common in younger people. Cities with mandates had higher rates of mask wearing. Promotion of mask use for older people may be useful. Masks did not result in a reduction of other hygiene measures.