Face masks for the public during Covid-19: an appeal for caution in policy

Date

2020-04-23

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Pre-Print

Type

Preprint

Peer reviewed

No

Abstract

As the Covid-19 crisis deepens, some researchers have argued for the widespread routine use of face masks in community settings, despite acknowledged gaps in the evidence base for the effectiveness of such a measure. We argue that such calls are premature, and risk neglecting important potential harms and negative consequences, known and unknown. We identify potential unintended consequences at multiple levels, from individual-behavioural to macrosocial, and suggest that it is far from clear that the benefits of widespread uptake of face masks, whether encouraged or enforced by public authorities, outweigh the downsides. Finally, we make the case for caution in communicating unequivocal messages about the scientific evidence for face mask use to policy, practitioner and public audiences, given continued scientific disagreement on the question

Description

Keywords

Covid-19, Face masks, Science Communication

Citation

Martin, G., Hanna, E. and Dingwall, R. (2020) Face masks for the public during Covid-19: an appeal for caution in policy

Rights

Research Institute

Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research