Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 50-54

To wear or not to wear? Factors influencing wearing face masks in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic

Department IV, University of Trier, Trier, Germany

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Marc Oliver Rieger
Department IV, University of Trier, Trier
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/SHB.SHB_23_20

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Introduction: During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been advised to wear masks. Attitudes toward wearing masks have not been investigated well. We want to provide data on whether and why people would be willing to wear masks in order to suggest ways for enhancing compliance. Methods: We conducted a survey among 206 participants on April 20 to 22, 2020. The sample mean age was 28 years, 63% of the participants were female, 64% were undergraduate or graduate students, and 51% had a university degree. Data from a previous study (n = 241, mean age of 26 years, 66% females, 83% students, 52% with a university degree) have also been used. Results: Fifty to eighty percent of the participants stated they would (probably) wear a mask (if they had one) in most scenarios. On the street, only 21% said they would. Demographic factors did not prove to be significant, whereas a university degree increased the likelihood of wearing a mask. Determining factors included worries about the current situation, self-protection, protecting others, thinking that wearing a mask looks strange, and being afraid of others' judgment when wearing a mask. The significance of these factors varies strongly between the age groups. Nearly all participants stated they would wear a mask if it were legally required, but compliance would be lower if the law required them to wear masks on the street. Surprisingly, there is no difference in attitudes toward masks as compared to the results of the previous survey from March 24 to 25, 2020. Conclusion: Legally requiring people to wear face masks seems to be an essentially effective instrument in this case. Studying the voluntary use of masks, we find that in different groups, wearing (or not wearing) a mask can be attributed to various reasons. Potential campaigns should therefore be tailor-made for different demographic groups.

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