Posted: 2021-10-04 19:00:00
Introduction: the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the prolonged use of facemasks by healthcare workers. Facemask non-compliance has been largely blamed on discomfort associated with the mask, and apprehension regarding potential health hazards such as asphyxia from mask usage. We sought to evaluate the impact of different respiratory mask types on the comfort of healthcare workers and their arterial oxygen saturation during periods of active clinical duty. Methods: we conducted a cross-sectional study on healthcare workers donning different types of facemasks in the normal course of duty. Objective non-invasive determination of arterial oxygen saturation of each participant was done using a portable pulse oximeter. Subjective self-assessment of global discomfort was scored by means of a 11-point numerical scale from 0 (no discomfort) to 10 (worst discomfort imaginable). The user's perceived elements of the discomfort were also evaluated. A statistical significance was accepted when P <0.05. Results: seventy-six healthcare workers completed the study, and wore the masks for periods ranging from 68-480 minutes. The discomfort experienced with the use of the N95 mask; 4.3 (2.0) was greater than the surgical mask; 2.7 (1.8); P=0.001. No significant change in arterial oxygen saturation was observed with the use of either of the mask types. The tight strapping of the N95 mask was perceived as a contributor to the discomfort experienced with mask usage; P=0.009. Conclusion: the N95 masks imposed greater discomfort than the surgical masks, but neither of the masks impacted on the arterial oxygen saturation of the healthcare workers. Keywords: COVID-19; Face-mask; discomfort; healthcare workers; oxygen saturation.
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