Understanding How Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Shape Mask-Wearing Adherence During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the COVID Impact Survey

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2022 Feb;9(1):176-183. doi: 10.1007/s40615-020-00941-1. Epub 2021 Jan 19.


Background: Mask wearing has been shown to be an effective strategy for slowing the spread of COVID-19. While early studies have uncovered some evidence of racial and ethnic differences in mask-wearing behavior, critical gaps remain. We begin to address these gaps by (1) more comprehensively investigating the role of race and ethnicity on mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) examining whether gender intersects with race and ethnicity to differently influence mask-wearing patterns.

Methods: Data were drawn from the COVID-19 Impact Survey, a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of adults living in the U.S. Data were pooled from three time points that ranged from late April 2020 to early June 2020. The final analytic sample consisted of 4688 non-institutionalized adults living in the U.S. A series of logistic regression models with robust standard errors were used to estimate differences in mask-wearing patterns.

Results: Compared with White respondents, results revealed Black, Latina/o, and Asian respondents were more likely to report wearing a mask in response to the coronavirus. Moreover, results show White men were least likely to wear a mask from late April 2020 to early June 2020.

Conclusion: Overall, findings demonstrate mask-wearing patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic are differently shaped by racial and ethnic background and gender. Findings from this study can inform targeted strategies designed to increase mask-wearing adherence among U.S. adults.

Keywords: COVID-19; Gender; Mask wearing; Race and ethnicity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masks
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires