Face mask use and disposal behaviour of frontline young doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic: a two-year study
Keywords:frontline worker, health worker, occupational risk, SARS-CoV-2, India
Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected India in spite of an ongoing vaccination campaign. The doctors are at greater risk of COVID-19 and face masks are a protective measure against this threat. We assessed the use and disposal of face masks among postgraduate trainees (PGTs) working on the COVID-19 frontline in an Indian medical college.
Methodology: Data was collected from all PGTs who agreed to participate during the first, second and third wave of the pandemic in India. A pre-tested questionnaire to assess and compare face mask use and disposal behaviour across the three phases was used.
Results: All participants used face masks regularly; a significant uptrend in N-95 mask users and double mask users was observed as the pandemic progressed. Use of face shields peaked during the second wave. Most participants preferred keeping the mask on always at work and avoided donning and doffing of masks in between usage. Many of them practiced ‘extended use’ of face masks and nearly a third re-used a mask for ≥ 6 days, which is against the standard recommendations; however, such behavior among participants showed a downward trend. Proper disposal practices were not followed by many participants, leaving scope for environmental contamination.
Conclusions: There is an imminent need to make the young frontline doctors aware regarding appropriate mask usage and disposal for better preparedness before any health exigencies of the future.
How to Cite
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).