COVID-19 research: What does wearing a mask during the pandemic say about you?

December 2020: Since the emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), wearing a mask has been recommended — and controversial. While medical professionals advise us that coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission by preventing infectious respiratory droplets from people who have tested positive from spreading to others, researchers at the University of Edinburgh, UK have discovered something else — consistent mask-wearing was associated with positive well-being.

After surveying more than 11,000 participants across the UK from April to June 2020, the researchers found:

  • 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.
  • The odds of feeling lonely were 67% lower among those who always wore their masks.

“Stronger adherence to guidelines is associated with less anxiety and loneliness, and higher life satisfaction and wellbeing,” the researchers wrote in the paper, emphasizing 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.”

Journal reference: Face covering adherence is positively associated with better mental health and wellbeing: a longitudinal analysis of the CovidLife surveys. Research by Altschul, D., Ritchie, C., Kwong, A., Hartley, L., Nangle, C., Edwards, R. et al. (2020). Read more about it here.