Researchers find correlation between consistent mask-wearing and improved well-being

Since the emergence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), universal masking has been implemented in many countries.

Wearing face masks or coverings can help reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by preventing infectious respiratory droplets from COVID-19 positive individuals from spreading to others when they sneeze, cough, talk, or breathe.

A team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh, UK, found that consistent mask-wearing was associated with positive well-being among their participants.

The study, published on the pre-print medRxiv* server, surveyed more than 11,000 participants across the UK.

Face covering

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends wearing a face mask as part of a comprehensive strategy of mitigating the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide adequate protection, but it is effective along with other infection control measures.

The health agency also recommends that people wear a mask if they are around other people. When wearing the mask properly, it should cover the nose, mouth, and chin.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge the public to wear face coverings made with cloth. Surgical and medical masks are intended for healthcare workers. This is to avoid depleting the supply of this medical equipment, which is crucial in protecting frontline workers.

The study

The team conducted longitudinal analyses that collected data via the Qualtrics platform between April and June 2020. To arrive at the study findings, the researchers recruited 11,000 participants across the UK who completed the CovidLife surveys, which is an initiative set up by the University of Edinburgh to try and measure and understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation's health and well-being. Using this data, the mental health outcomes of the participants were then evaluated.

The researchers found that adherence to face-covering guidelines had no association with poorer mental health. The team also found that people who wore masks consistently had better mental health than those who did not.

Hence, the study offers evidence to suggest that wearing face coverings or masks more often will not negatively impact mental health.

The study found that the odds of feeling anxious were 58% lower among those who always wore their masks. The likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms was 25% lower among people who wore their masks most of the time. Lastly, the odds of feeling lonely were 67% lower among those who always wore their masks.

Indeed, the opposite appears to be the case: stronger adherence to guidelines is associated with less anxiety and loneliness, and higher life satisfaction and wellbeing," the researchers wrote in the paper.

The study findings agree with past studies that found that not adhering to the rule of wearing face masks can be viewed negatively by others. It reveals the other side to adherence behavior, even though stigmatization or discomfort of wearing masks do or do not harm mental health and well-being.

They also emphasized that wearing face masks alone is insufficient in preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2. Adhering to infection control measures such as washing the hands regularly, maintaining social distance, and avoiding crowded places are crucial factors that should be applied alongside face coverings.

Conclusion

Our data provide strong evidence that following government guidance on face coverings is associated with better rather than poorer mental health and wellbeing," the team concluded.

Correlation is not to be conflated with causation here. However, the study offers an interesting finding which, the researchers believe, provides evidence that challenges assumptions that consistent mask-wearing can negatively impact mental health and well-being. They thus suggest that their findings "could be an important motivator for continued advocacy by policymakers and adherence by members of the public."

More research would be needed to fully understand this correlation and it should be weighed up against the ways in which consistent mask-wearing can have negative effects on one's physical and mental well-being. In short, further study would clarify the implications of this finding.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:
Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

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Comments

  1. Steve Schindler Steve Schindler United States says:

    My experience has been that most  people who wear masks dislike wearing them but they do it either because they feel they do help or it makes those around them feel more comfortable.  They are already looking at the positive side.  On the other hand those who refuse usually feel it doesn't help at all or feel it is somehow a violation of their rights which are pretty negative ideas.

    I would suggest that perhaps those who wear masks already have stronger mental health than those who refuse and the masks have nothing to do with it.

  2. Ron Russ Ron Russ United States says:

    I think you might have it backwards... Did you control for prexisting emotional problems? I suspect that it's more likely that those with better mental health overall are more likely to understand the threat of the disease to the overall health system, less likely to risk the health of their friends and relatives, and understand that wearing a mask isn't all that big a deal.
    I think the more stable are also less likely to fall for the conspiracy theories and obvious false information.  I'm sure a lot of people find comfort in protecting themselves, but I think the above reasoning accounts for a lot of it too.

  3. Shahzaib Khan Shahzaib Khan Islamic Republic of Pakistan says:

    Masks have shown to induce red blood cell production in the body, if worn for a long time, because masks tend to trap exhaled air containing less oxygen and so most of it is inhaled again. This slightly reduced oxygenation of blood stimulates the release of erythropoietin, a hormone that causes rbc production. Increased rbc count is beneficial as it increases overall energy levels and boosts stamina and increases metabolism.

  4. Chris F. Chris F. United States says:

    This article is just another example of how you can create a study to achieve the results you want. It doesn't explain what evidence they have proving their theory, they just give the conclusion. This is how the media conducts polls and now it seems nurses are doing the same to get people to fall in line. A similar study could be conducted proving that 99 out of 100 people had better mental well being while not wearing masks while on a vacation in sunny Hawaii. What a joke... I'm not saying you shouldn't wear masks but don't try to tell people they will feel better mentally if they do.

  5. Shari Fletcher-MacLeod Shari Fletcher-MacLeod United States says:

    Yet another attempt by the people in high places to oppress and corral the masses. Increased well being my butt! All I ever feel when I wear a mask is suffocated.  

    Things like this have been tried before. Anybody want a star to wear on their chest to identify them? How about an armband? Or, what the heck, let's just go for it and start giving everybody identifying tattoos. Because all of that worked so well the last time...
    Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. I'd rather not be Nazi Germany or China thank you very much. This is the United States of America, I will make my own damn choices!

  6. family3 family3 Mexico says:

    omg....this one tops them all! I guess not breathing properly is actually good for your mental health....that says a lot about the mental health of those "scientists" and medical worker now  reporter....

  7. Fool Took Fool Took Canada says:

    This study sounds like big brother propaganda that our governments would like us to believe. I would expect this sort of story and study in totalitarian regimes and places like China. No one is arguing that Mental Health decay happens from masks but it's the isolation and other negative effects from policies, including the mandatory use of masks...

  8. Joz Jonlin Joz Jonlin United States says:

    Our data provide strong evidence that following government guidance on face coverings is associated with better rather than poorer mental health and wellbeing," the team concluded.

    These have to be low information individuals.  When a government tells its people that they're more susceptible to infection when not wearing a mask, of course they'll feel better.  It's a lie, and it's irresponsible for governments to continue this lie but that's what governments do.  Wearing a mask to keep you safe has to be one of the biggest hoaxes ever foisted on people.  There are no indications that masks provide significant protection, and in fact, there are indications masks might cause more harm than good.  Masks are like the old movie trope of when a mother is giving birth at home that they have the father go boil water.  It's to keep the father busy and his mind off what's really going on.  Masks give the masses something to do even if masks have no intrinsic value.  The people who really make me shake my head are those who are walking or diving by themselves and wearing a mask.  Again, low information individuals.

    Sorry for the rant Ms. Laguipo.  It's not necessarily the efficacy of masks.  It comes down to human behavior.  The average individual has no idea that wearing a mask for protection is far more than simply wearing the mask.  The average person doesn't wear their masks properly.  They tend to touch their mask and face more often than if they aren't wearing a mask, and they have no idea how often a mask should be cleaned or replaced.  In my clinical settings, I only had to wear masks for short periods of time and I changed my mask between patients if I wore a mask for 2 consecutive patients.  This is never going to happen with the public.  You can have the best hepa-rated mask in the world but in the hands of the average citizen, human behavior will negate the efficacy of even the best masks.

  9. William Preston William Preston United States says:

    Hey author, guess what?  I was a compliant masktard and wore those disgusting face diapers all the time everywhere and I STILL managed to come down with COVID19.  So much for them supposedly being the panacea for all our ails.

    And then guess what?  I recovered from the disease just like 99.998% of everyone else that comes down with it.  Do you not see where I'm going here? Should I draw a picture for you?

    I don't know who you're trying to fool here with this blatant piece of propaganda, but I'm afraid you are SORELY mistaken.  Not only is this garbage you're shilling out not peer-reviewed but it is also false in every detail.

    This is nothing more than blatant hysteria in the form of "See, See!  These "medical experts" said being a masktard is good for you so that must mean everyone should have them on 24/7/365 and not let anyone see your face ever again.

    This entire scamdemic is nothing but the slow boil of the frog as more and more of our freedoms are taken away without even being realized.  Anyone who can't see that this dystopian mask compliance BS is just the beginning of a VERY dangerous road that ends with no one ever being able to make their own decisions again either has their head completely buried in the sand or are completely retarded.  

    Go peddle your disgusting propaganda somewhere else and let us lovers of freedom go live our lives without the threat of tyranny.

  10. Matthew Glynn Matthew Glynn United States says:

    This is complete horseshit. Is been proven over and over that wearing a mask I isn't good for you and it has been proven over and over that it does nothing to actually keep you safe. The only people that should wear these make are people who are surgeons that don't want blood and guys flying up in their faces whole they are performing surgeries and so that they don't inhale nasty shit from a huge open wound it incision in a body. But just like the rest of life on this planet until the everyone took a fucking stupid pill over the last 9 months and instead of burning every media source and every fucking government that is promoting this forced into submission so that the ultra elite and powerful can finally start their complete authoritarian regime worldwide thru the guise of a plandemic. If everyone would stop and do their own very basic math they would see that there was never ever ever any reason to collapse economies and shut anything down. But everyone seems to think that the news actual states facts and doesn't seem to know the simple fact that need is an entertainment corporation meant to program the masses. AWAKE THE FUCK UP. Stop promoting ignorance so you can rest with at least a piece of mind and know you have a soul. Instead you're just following the herd into the slaughter house

  11. Timothy Takemoto Timothy Takemoto Japan says:

    This article has the nuance that wearing a mask will cause people to feel greater well being, and they may, but the research only demonstrates an "association" or correlation, which is likely in part due to happier people having the spare strength to wear masks, and rich, educated, healthy and or prideful people having the tendencey to be or claim to claim to be happy and mask wearers, sufficiently to override the downsides of masks. But all the same, lets wear masks.

  12. Christ is King! Christ is King! United States says:

    Believing that a "mask" can keep out a Virus, is like thinking a 'Chain-link' fence will stop a mosquito!?
    Trust in Jesus, do not fear men or their machinations as everyone eventually dies, and then comes the Judgement! The one who you should fear is God! The one who has the Power to throw both body & soul into Hell!

  13. Kirk Williams Kirk Williams United States says:

    How was the issue of virtue signalling addressed in the study? If we are allowing self-reporting, individuals who believe they are contributing to the well-being of "society" will indubitably feel better about themselves.

  14. Dr. Zafar Abbas Dr. Zafar Abbas United States says:

    That's good

  15. A Qamar A Qamar Canada says:

    Researchers should also try to find impacts of wearing masks on different age groups. People can experience different symptoms or impacts.  Continuous use of mask can give you a burning  feeling in eyes  headache, throat rash, dry cough,fatigue. Longterm usage can impact your respiratory health and lung disease. In fact by continuous usage, we are not breathing in fresh air and oxygen impacting our overall health. People who use mask most of the time will not be as fresh after all nights sleep. In another few years more doctor visits can be expected for respiratory  ailments.

  16. mark ditch mark ditch Canada says:

    On no level is this true. This article is a trial close on a new narrative that being a good citizen makes one happy. Glad to see all the pushback.

    It is encouraging to know so many people arnt willing to take the govt at its word anymore.

    Lets remember this when they send us Covid21 chinaflu part 2.

  17. Andrew Thomas Andrew Thomas United States says:

    It actually states that people who don't wear mask suffer from ridicule. So really you should wear a mask because being looked down upon can cause poor mental health.

  18. Rick Rick United States says:

    We don't believe you "experts" any longer. We should believe this nonsense or our own damning eyes and ears and logic? I feel sick just thinking about wearing a mask. The sheep in your flock are fewer and fewer. I will not comply.

  19. D Snyder D Snyder United States says:

    Pre-published, associative study. Extraordinarily weak. Shallow, feel-good science that indicates people who wear face masks or cloth coverings in the community setting are probably virtue-signaling and thus feel better about themselves. Junk Science.

  20. random chanel random chanel Canada says:

    I guess University of Baguio didn't taught you well. When does wearing mask make you happier than not wearing them? When does wearing masks helps you feel better mentally? If that is so everyone would have been wearing masks even without pandemic so we can all be happy or a therapy for people with depression. You are a shame to the Filipino nurses. It's not healthy at all you're slowly poisoning yourself by inhaling your own exhaled air. So you don't make sense. Stop with these lies.

  21. Shoshanah Cohen Shoshanah Cohen United Kingdom says:

    Most of those not wearing face coverings in the UK are exempt for reasons of disability etc.  Of course they have poorer wellbeing/mental health than those who can wear them  That was true before coronavirus, and it's especially true now everyone is judging and harassing them for not wearing one.

    This is a completely pointless piece of work; it's very clear that the groups are not going to be comparable, so you've actually got no idea whether wearing a face covering makes you less happy, because you don't know how happy people were before they started wearing them (rather than comparing completely different groups of people).

    And even the people who are just choosing not to wear them are likely outside wider society in some way (i.e. not members of the in-group), thus more likely to have poorer wellbeing regardless.

    You might also find that lower anxiety people wearing face coverings experience leads them to be complacent, and take risks in other ways because they think their face covering is a magic shield against disease...

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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