A false sense of security: Wearing a mask during COVID19 – VizoCare
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A false sense of security: Wearing a mask during COVID19

A false sense of security: Wearing a mask during COVID19

Risk compensation is a theory that suggests that people typically adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk, becoming more careful where they sense higher risk and less attentive if they feel more protected. The theory can be related to the broader term "Behavioural adaptation," which enables the person to get along with her/his environment with the best results of success with low conflict with others. So how does risk compensation related to a false sense of security and facemasks?


Early in the pandemic, the World Health Organization warned that wearing medical masks when not indicated can "create a false sense of security that can lead to neglecting other essential measures such as hand hygiene practices." In the meantime, wearing face coverings, particularly in shared indoor spaces, is now mandated in more than 160 countries to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Concerns have been raised that wearing face-covering might lead people not to follow other protective measures, such as washing hands, and maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter (risk compensation).

A recent study by Eleni Mantzari, research associate, G James Rubin, reader, Theresa M Marteau, professor, examined the evidence for risk compensation with other health threats. A table shows that wearing a mask did not reduce the frequency of handwashing or hand sanitizing in any six studies. Only two studies reveal "self-reported rates of handwashing were higher in the groups allocated to wearing masks." All six studies were cluster randomized controlled trials and included a total of 2042 households, student residences, or Hajj tents in Hong Kong, the United States, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia.

 Aside from risk compensation, two other outcomes are possible from wearing a mask. First, wearing a facemask won't adversely impact other protective behaviors. Second, people engaged in one protective practice may become more likely to engage in other related conduct. For example, wearing a mask can be a cue to keep a physical distance of 1 meter. A mask sign presented at the gate entrance can play as a cue for sanitizing your hand or hand washing.

Now, it is time for no compromise while choosing the best mask that can fit your needs—knowing how to use it properly to protect yourself and give a cue of care to others. Check our below-related articles to know more information about Masks.


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