A survey conducted by researchers at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City and the University of Queensland just before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Science&Tech showed that many children do not want to wear masks when going out. for fear of being perceived as weak by others.
Researchers surveyed more than 15,000 students aged 12-14 in all 24 districts in Ho Chi Minh City and their parents to examine people’s perceptions of wearing masks to avoid exposure to pollutants. Air pollution from traffic. The survey was conducted right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Science&Tech.
Explaining the purpose of the study, the authors say that everyone knows the risks of daily exposure to air pollution, but because airborne toxins are always “invisible” (except on special occasions). very bad days) and its familiarity (which happens every day) can lead to a false sense of security for those exposed.
“Once air pollution has become so specific that it can be ‘visible’ or ‘felt’, it becomes too dangerous,” said Th.S Le Huynh Thi Cam Hong, PhD student in Health Sciences. at the University of Queensland and is one of the lead authors of the paper published in the journal Public Health.
“Wearing a mask is a very simple and cheap way to protect yourself. We wanted to see what influenced the beliefs and behaviors of parents and children about wearing masks in relation to air pollution from traffic,” she added.
From survey questionnaires and in-depth interviews with children in Ho Chi Minh City, scientists discovered a number of things.
In particular, children have a false perception of their surroundings and believe that they are safe on ordinary daily trips, while being at greater risk on longer trips or to other destinations. new point.
Many children do not wear masks regularly, mainly because they feel uncomfortable or short of breath when wearing masks. Children will tend to choose masks based on convenience or comfort rather than effectiveness.
Children’s use of masks is influenced by their parents or elders around. That means children will have a habit of wearing masks more if adults regularly wear masks as an example.
One key takeaway from the study is that children are more likely to wear masks if they have individual respiratory symptoms. This implies a problem, as parents will often be more conscious of giving masks to children when they have symptoms of illness.
The authors were also surprised to discover that, unlike adults, children are often influenced by the perception of friends and people around them. Many children, especially boys, still worry about looking weak, sick or different from their friends if they wear masks. However, seeing that most of their friends are wearing masks outdoors, children are more likely to take the same protective action.
Meanwhile, adults often wear masks because they are aware of the health hazards and are almost unaffected by the assessment of appearance.
The scientists emphasized the need for more public health interventions tailored to young children’s perspectives to encourage them to have a greater sense of self-protection, especially in areas facing high rates of urbanization and exposure to air pollution from traffic. For example, children’s acceptance of face masks can be increased by increasing the participation of peers and parents or teachers in good health practices that make mask wearing a reality. a normal or common part of the child’s community.
The study is part of the LASER PULSE project “Reducing traffic-related air pollution: A multi-sectoral collaboration between health, education and the environment to reduce the impact of traffic-related air pollution in the world. Children in Ho Chi Minh City, Science&Tech, 2021-2022” sponsored by USAID.