#Clinician #perceptions of respiratory #infection #risk; a rationale for research into #mask use in routine practice (Infect Dis Health, abstract)

[Source: Infection, Disease and Health, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Infection, Disease & Health / Volume 24, Issue 3, August 2019, Pages 169-176 / Discussion paper

Clinician perceptions of respiratory infection risk; a rationale for research into mask use in routine practice

Ruth Barratt a,b,c, Ramon Z. Shaban b,d,e, Gwendoline L. Gilbert a,b

{a} Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, 176 Hawkesbury Rd, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia; {b} Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia; {c} The Westmead Clinical School, University of Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia; {d} Faculty of Medicine and Health, Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia; {e} Directorate of Nursing, Midwifery and Clinical Governance, Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

Received 6 December 2018, Revised 29 January 2019, Accepted 30 January 2019, Available online 21 February 2019.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.idh.2019.01.003



  • Emerging and remerging infectious diseases continue to pose a threat to human health and global security.
    Outbreaks of respiratory infection result in human and economic costs including staff illness and wider societal disruption.
  • Clinicians’ use of personal protective equipment is critical to reducing the risk of transmission of infectious disease.
  • Training in the use of PPE should take account of clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions of risk.
  • Individual and societal responsibility towards infection prevention may influence clinicians’ use of protective masks.



Outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are global threats to society. Planning for, and responses to, such events must include healthcare and other measures based on current evidence. An important area of infection prevention and control (IPC) is the optimal use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by healthcare workers (HCWs), including masks for protection against respiratory pathogens. Appropriate mask use during routine care is a forerunner to best practice in the event of an outbreak. However, little is known about the influences on decisions and behaviours of HCWs with respect to protective mask use when providing routine care. In this paper we argue that there is a need for more research to provide a better understanding of the decision-making and risk-taking behaviours of HCWs in respect of their use of masks for infectious disease prevention. Our argument is based on the ongoing threat of emerging infectious diseases; a need to strengthen workforce capability, capacity and education; the financial costs of healthcare and outbreaks; and the importance of social responsibility and supportive legislation in planning for global security. Future research should examine HCWs’ practices and constructs of risk to provide new information to inform policy and pandemic planning.

Keywords: Infectious diseases: protective mask – Pandemic planning – Risk taking – Behaviour – Outbreaks

Keywords: PPE; HCWs.


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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.