404. Discomfort Factors and Tolerance Times for Health care Providers Wearing Fit-Tested Filtering Face-Piece Respirators
Session: Poster Abstract Session: Occupational Health
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Room: The Moscone Center: Poster Hall C
  • LaVela-ID Week-10-13-final.pdf (862.9 kB)
  • Background:

    Health care providers (HCPs) are often reluctant to wear fit-tested filtering face-piece respirators because of perceived discomfort.  Our objective was to assess newly available data about respirator discomfort and tolerance times.  Data were drawn from a larger study designed to develop and validate an instrument that determines maximum respirator tolerance time in HCPs.

    Methods: HCPs at 2 VA health care facilities who were fit-tested participated in a survey to assess factors and magnitude of comfort and tolerability (n=74).  Bivariate comparisons of demographics and discomfort factors were made between HCPs who indicated being able to wear a fit-tested respirator for a maximum of ≤20 minutes s vs. maximum tolerability time of >20 minutes.

    Results: HCPs were mostly females (81%), 26-49 years of age (58%) who worked in intensive care units (21%) and emergency/urgent care (17%).  Overall, 53% of HCPs indicated that the maximum length of time they could tolerate wearing a fit-tested respirator was ≤ 20 minutes and 47% indicated tolerance for >20 minutes.  A greater proportion of male HCPs tolerated wearing the respirator for >20 minutes than did females (p=0.04).  There were no differences in tolerance time by age, position type, or average hours worked per  week.  Overall, the most common cited areas of discomfort a lot/all of the time were:  tightness of straps (36%), lack of fresh air (34%), overall tightness (31%); and facial heat/warmth (29%).  Greater proportions of HCPs with a maximum tolerance time of ≤20 minutes vs. >20 minutes indicated discomfort a lot of/all of the time with regard to:  overall tightness (41% vs. 20%, p=0.05); facial irritation (33% vs. 12%, p=0.03); facial heat/warmth (42% vs. 14%, p=0.01); and lack of fresh air (49% vs. 17%, p=0.004).

    Conclusion: About 1/3 of HCPs indicated discomfort due to tightness of straps, lack of fresh air, and overall tightness.  Gender was associated with perceived comfort (males had higher tolerability time).  In order to improve future respirator designs, input from end-user HCPs is needed to identify length of tolerability and features associated with the greatest discomfort.

    Sherri Lavela, PhD MPH MBA1,2, Sara Locatelli, PhD1, Carol Kostovich, PhD, RN1, Brendan Kelly, BA1, Charlesnika Evans, PhD MPH1,3, Megan Gosch, MPH4 and Lewis Radonovich, MD4,5, (1)Department of Veterans Affairs, Hines, IL, (2)Institute for Public Health and Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, (3)Institute For Public Health and Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, (4)Office of Public Health, National Center for Occupational Health and Infection Control, Gainesville, FL, (5)University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL


    S. Lavela, None

    S. Locatelli, None

    C. Kostovich, None

    B. Kelly, None

    C. Evans, None

    M. Gosch, None

    L. Radonovich, None

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