Factors influencing the wearing of facemasks to prevent the severe acute respiratory syndrome among adult Chinese in Hong Kong

Prev Med. 2004 Dec;39(6):1187-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.04.032.


Background: The global outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 has been an international public health threat. Quick diagnostic tests and specific treatments for SARS are not yet available; thus, prevention is of paramount importance to contain its global spread. This study aimed to determine factors associating with individuals' practice of the target SARS preventive behavior (facemask wearing).

Methods: A total of 1329 adult Chinese residing in Hong Kong were surveyed. The survey instrument included demographic data, measures on the five components of the Health Belief Model, and the practice of the target SARS preventive behavior. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine rates and predictors of facemask wearing.

Results: Overall, 61.2% of the respondents reported consistent use of facemasks to prevent SARS. Women, the 50-59 age group, and married respondents were more likely to wear facemasks. Three of the five components of the Health Belief Model, namely, perceived susceptibility, cues to action, and perceived benefits, were significant predictors of facemask-wearing even after considering effects of demographic characteristics.

Conclusions: The Health Belief Model is useful in identifying determinants of facemask wearing. Findings have significant implications in enhancing the effectiveness of SARS prevention programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Masks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Socioeconomic Factors