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Association Between Type of Face Mask and Visual Analog Scale Scores During Pain Assessment

Published:November 24, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmn.2021.09.005

      Abstract

      Aims

      To examine the association between the type of mask worn by health care professionals and assessment of pain intensity in patients after orthopedic surgery using the visual analog scale (VAS).

      Design

      A nonrandomized controlled trial conducted among 176 patients hospitalized in an orthopedic department of a hospital located in northern-central Israel from January to March 2021.

      Methods

      In the intervention group (n = 83), pain assessment using the VAS was performed by a health care professional wearing a transparent face mask, while in the control group (n = 93), pain assessment was performed by a health care professional wearing a standard nontransparent face mask. The initial assessment was performed by a nurse, and 15 minutes later, an additional assessment was performed by a physician.

      Results

      Health care professionals wearing a standard non-transparent mask obtained higher VAS scores than health care professionals wearing a transparent mask. In addition, nurses obtained lower VAS scores than physicians. The discrepancy in VAS scores between nurses and physicians was found in 50% of cases. This discrepancy was more prevalent among female patients, patients after knee replacement or spinal surgery, and when health care professionals were wearing a standard nontransparent mask.

      Conclusions

      This study supports the use of transparent face masks by health care professionals in an orthopedic department, particularly by nurses. In addition, this study supports the assumption of problems involving the reliability of VAS.
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