Current practices and barriers to the use of facemasks and respirators among hospital-based health care workers in Vietnam

Am J Infect Control. 2015 Jan;43(1):72-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2014.10.009.


Background: This study aimed to examine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards the use of facemasks among hospital-based health care workers (HCWs) in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Methods: A qualitative study incorporating 20 focus groups was conducted between August 2010 and May 2011. HCWs from 7 hospitals in Vietnam were invited to participate.

Results: Issues associated with the availability of facemasks (medical and cloth masks) and respirators was the strongest theme to emerge from the discussion. Participants reported that it is not unusual for some types of facemasks to be unavailable during nonemergency periods. It was highlighted that the use of facemasks and respirators is not continuous, but rather is limited to selected situations, locations, and patients. Reuse of facemasks and respirators is also common in some settings. Finally, some participants reported believing that the reuse of facemasks, particularly cloth masks, is safe, whereas others believed that the reuse of masks put staff at risk of infection.

Conclusions: In low and middle-income countries, access to appropriate levels of personal protective equipment may be restricted owing to competing demands for funding in hospital settings. It is important that issues around reuse and extended use of medical masks/respirators and decontamination of cloth masks are addressed in policy documents to minimize the risk of infection.

Keywords: Cloth mask; Influenza; Low- and middle-income countries; Pandemic; Respiratory infection; Surgical mask.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control*
  • Vietnam