Are transparent masks better for communication?

A study of 1000 patients and health care workers was conducted to compare transparent masks to standard masks when it comes to communication. It is thought that a transparent mask could help reduce miscommunication.1

As a part of widespread public health efforts to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, mask wearing has become a part of every day life. Due to these mask requirements, communication can be negatively impacted.1

This requirement has been especially difficult for those who are hard of hearing. About 17% of Americans suffer from one form of hearing loss.1

Medical grade and surgical masks often make voices sound muffled and make it difficult to read facial expressions, which can be a significant problem for health care workers.1 Masks block the ability of visualization of the lips and therefore prohibit lip reading.1

A solution has been presented for bettering communication whilst still being protected from catching COVID-19. The solution is transparent masks.1

A few transparent masks have been manufactured and sold, but they are not universally available to the general public or health care practitioners. Some transparent masks cannot be used because they do not meet the specific medical standards.1

Surveys showed that health care practitioner and patients believe that transparent masks could help communication and build trust with patients. Communication could improve in the way that people can read lips and facial expressions, but voices may still sound be muffled in conversation.1

Although there is some concern, the study reported that the general public accepted the possibility of using a transparent mask. Some concerns the general public had in regards to transparent masks included discomfort, fogging, and muffled sound quality.1

This study showed how mask use has caused complications when communicating and showing emotions. Many health care practitioners have agreed that transparent masks could solve this communication issue and help create trust with their patients.1


1. Chu JN, Collins JE, Chen TT, et al. Patient–health care worker communication when wearing standard vs transparent masks. JAMA Network Open. Published November 22, 2021. Accessed November 27, 2021. 

Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay 

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