Problems Encountered by Nurses Due to the Use of Personal Protective Equipment During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Results of a Survey

Wound Manag Prev. 2020 Oct;66(10):12-16.


The importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses in the global fight against the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic cannot be overstated. PPE must be available, safe, and effective. There is increasing evidence that the use of PPE can cause physical health problems.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to further examine PPE-related physical problems experienced by nurses as well as the role of wear time on these problems.

METHODS: Using a descriptive cross-sectional design, a survey was conducted among nurses working for state or university hospitals across Turkey who actively cared for patients with COVID-19. Survey questions included demographic variables, type of PPE used, physical problems experienced, and length of time PPE was worn (4 hours or less, or more than 4 hours). Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis were used to analyze the data.

RESULTS: Three hundred and seven (307) nurses completed the survey. The most commonly reported problems were sweating when wearing a surgical (50.9%) or N95 (64.2%) mask, dry hands from wearing gloves (73.9%), perspiration when wearing overalls/gowns (84.1%), and vision problems when wearing goggles/face shields (47.9%). Logistic regression analysis indicated a signifcant relationship between > 4 hours length of use and the occurrence of the following: redness of the cheeks, dry mouth, redness of the nose bridge, and redness of the ears for N95 masks; dryness of the mouth when wearing surgical masks; skin dryness, sweating, and redness from wearing gloves; headaches from wearing goggles/face shields; and sweating when wearing overalls or a gown (P < .05 for all variables).

CONCLUSION: The results of this study show that physical problems related to the use of PPE are common and increase when PPE is worn for more than 4 hours. The availability, safety, and effectiveness of PPE are crucial to help protect nurses. Studies to examine PPE quality, characteristics, efficacy, and optimal use are necessary to maintain the healthy workforce needed to care for patients during this pandemic.