Self-contamination of health care workers and the environmental contamination levels by improper manipulation of facemasks

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Self-contamination of health care workers and the environmental contamination levels by improper manipulation of facemasks

 

Author: Poon, Fung-ling
Title: Self-contamination of health care workers and the environmental contamination levels by improper manipulation of facemasks
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2012
Subject: Medical personnel -- Health and hygiene.
Medical personnel -- China -- Hong Kong -- Attitudes.
Medical personnel -- Safety measures.
Environmental toxicology.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
Pages: xiv, 86 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2474792
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6428
Abstract: Background: Facemasks were used day-to-day in clinical area of health care settings. Although the protection efficiency of facemasks is high, it depends on proper usage. It is, however, common to see health care workers pulling down the facemasks under chins which might lead to a chance of self as well as environmental contamination. This study investigate the levels of self-contamination and environmental contamination when health care workers pulled down the facemasks under their chins and then put them back on their noses and mouths. This study also assessed the subjective perception, knowledge and behaviour of wearing facemasks to understand why health care workers manipulate the facemasks improperly. Aim: This study aimed at comprehending the self and environmental contamination levels apparent in health care settings when workers wore the facemasks improperly and know the underlying reasons for such behaviour. Method: The methodology was divided into 3 stages. Stage 1 was the physical properties of the facemask. Totally six physical properties were found under the American Association of Textile Chemists & Colorists or American Society for Testing & Materials standards. Stage 2 was an experimental study which was a repeated measure design. Forty-five participants wore fluorescein solution contaminated facemasks and wrote on charts as they noted the patients' records in nurse station with and without any manipulation of facemasks. The researcher assessed the contamination levels in both health care workers and environment under ultraviolet light. After the experimental study, the participants completed the questionnaire about their subjective perception, knowledge and behaviour on wearing facemasks in stage 3.
Results: The experimental results showed significant self-contamination of health care workers on both hands and neck. The results also showed significant environmental contamination on the folder and the chart. The results in the questionnaire showed the main cause for improper manipulation of facemasks was a feeling of discomfort. It also showed inadequate knowledge of health care workers regarding the wearing of facemasks. Discussion: The results showed significant contamination in both health care workers and the environment. The results also indicated that the improper manipulation of facemasks was very common and the main reason was feeling felt uncomfortable. New kinds of masks can be designed and produced for better protection with improved comfort performance. Besides, the results also demonstrated that the knowledge of health care workers about wearing facemasks was inadequate. The infection control teams in all health care settings should consider the need for promoting the proper wearing of facemasks. The results showed correlation between demographic factors and the contamination levels or knowledge of wearing facemask. However, the difference in the number of subjects' characteristics could not explain the relationships. Future studies should be undertaken to compare those factors with similar numbers of subjects' characteristics. Conclusion: This study substantiated the risks of improper manipulation of facemasks with evidence of inadequate knowledge of health care workers on wearing facemasks. The infection control teams should consider promotion of proper facemask wearing, and more comfortable facemasks should also be introduced for use in health care settings.

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