Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Randomized Controlled Trial
, 322 (9), 824-833

N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Affiliations
Randomized Controlled Trial

N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Lewis J Radonovich Jr et al. JAMA.

Abstract

Importance: Clinical studies have been inconclusive about the effectiveness of N95 respirators and medical masks in preventing health care personnel (HCP) from acquiring workplace viral respiratory infections.

Objective: To compare the effect of N95 respirators vs medical masks for prevention of influenza and other viral respiratory infections among HCP.

Design, setting, and participants: A cluster randomized pragmatic effectiveness study conducted at 137 outpatient study sites at 7 US medical centers between September 2011 and May 2015, with final follow-up in June 2016. Each year for 4 years, during the 12-week period of peak viral respiratory illness, pairs of outpatient sites (clusters) within each center were matched and randomly assigned to the N95 respirator or medical mask groups.

Interventions: Overall, 1993 participants in 189 clusters were randomly assigned to wear N95 respirators (2512 HCP-seasons of observation) and 2058 in 191 clusters were randomly assigned to wear medical masks (2668 HCP-seasons) when near patients with respiratory illness.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza. Secondary outcomes included incidence of acute respiratory illness, laboratory-detected respiratory infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory illness, and influenzalike illness. Adherence to interventions was assessed.

Results: Among 2862 randomized participants (mean [SD] age, 43 [11.5] years; 2369 [82.8%]) women), 2371 completed the study and accounted for 5180 HCP-seasons. There were 207 laboratory-confirmed influenza infection events (8.2% of HCP-seasons) in the N95 respirator group and 193 (7.2% of HCP-seasons) in the medical mask group (difference, 1.0%, [95% CI, -0.5% to 2.5%]; P = .18) (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.18 [95% CI, 0.95-1.45]). There were 1556 acute respiratory illness events in the respirator group vs 1711 in the mask group (difference, -21.9 per 1000 HCP-seasons [95% CI, -48.2 to 4.4]; P = .10); 679 laboratory-detected respiratory infections in the respirator group vs 745 in the mask group (difference, -8.9 per 1000 HCP-seasons, [95% CI, -33.3 to 15.4]; P = .47); 371 laboratory-confirmed respiratory illness events in the respirator group vs 417 in the mask group (difference, -8.6 per 1000 HCP-seasons [95% CI, -28.2 to 10.9]; P = .39); and 128 influenzalike illness events in the respirator group vs 166 in the mask group (difference, -11.3 per 1000 HCP-seasons [95% CI, -23.8 to 1.3]; P = .08). In the respirator group, 89.4% of participants reported "always" or "sometimes" wearing their assigned devices vs 90.2% in the mask group.

Conclusions and relevance: Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01249625.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Bessesen reported receiving grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs during the conduct of the study. Dr Brown reported receiving grants from the US Department of Veterans Affairs during the conduct of the study. Dr Cummings reported receiving grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and MedImmune outside the submitted work and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority during the conduct of the study. Ms Los reported receiving grants from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Biodefense Advanced Research and Development Agency during the conduct of the study. Dr Gibert reported receiving financial support for the conduct of the study, including research personnel, from the Veterans Health Administration during the conduct of the study. Dr Gorse reported receiving grants from the US Department of Veterans Affairs during the conduct of the study. Dr Nyquist reported receiving grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Veterans Health Administration during the conduct of the study; personal fees and nonfinancial support from Sequirus outside the submitted work; and serving on a policy making committee regarding infectious disease for the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Dr Reich reported receiving grants from Veterans Health Administration during the conduct of the study. Dr Rodriguez-Barradas reported receiving grants from Veterans Affairs Central Office during the conduct of the study. Dr Perl reported receiving grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority during the conduct of the study and grants from Medimmune outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Publication types

MeSH terms

Associated data

Feedback