High-Risk US Adults May Not Consistently Wear Masks

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(Reuters) – Most U.S. adults with chronic medical conditions know they face higher odds of severe COVID-19 but that does not mean they avoid high-risk behaviors, survey data suggest.

In late 2020, researchers asked nearly 6,000 participants in the Understanding America Study about their perceived risks from the new coronavirus, and their mask-wearing behavior. They also asked if participants had been diagnosed with a variety of known risk factors – chronic lung disease, kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, or obesity.

All of those conditions, except for high blood pressure and kidney disease, were linked with perceptions of higher risks for COVID-19 complications and death among respondents. Compared to people with none of these medical conditions, those with three or more had engaged in about 10% fewer activities in the past week.

But only when visiting a grocery store or pharmacy were participants with three or more medical risk factors more likely to always wear a mask than those with no conditions. During other common activities, including visiting with friends, the majority of adults, including the highly susceptible, did not consistently wear masks, the researchers reported in JAMA Network Open.

Highly susceptible adults “understood their risks were higher, but consistent mask wearing remained low,” the researchers said.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3rzVVTT JAMA Network Open, online March 31, 2021.