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Open AccessArticle

Motivations and Barriers for the Use of Face Coverings during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Messaging Insights from Focus Groups

1
Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 170 Rosenau Hall, CB #7400, 135 Dauer Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
2
Carolina Population Center, 123 West Franklin St., Suite 210, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, USA
3
Hussman School of Journalism and Media, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 117 Carroll Hall CB#3365, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
4
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, CB#7295, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9298; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249298
Received: 12 November 2020 / Revised: 4 December 2020 / Accepted: 10 December 2020 / Published: 12 December 2020
Widespread use of face coverings is a key public health strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, few studies have examined why Americans use or do not use face coverings, and little is known about the most effective messaging strategies. This study explored perceptions of face coverings, including motivations and barriers for use, and examined reactions to messaging promoting the use of face coverings. Six virtual focus groups were conducted with 34 North Carolina residents in July 2020. Participants reported high compliance with face covering recommendations but often did not wear them around family, friends, and colleagues. The most prevalent motivation for the use of face coverings was to protect or respect other people, including high-risk populations and individuals. Other motivators were self-protection, responsibility, desire for control, requirements, and expert advice. Barriers included physical and social discomfort, confusion or misinformation, low perceived susceptibility to COVID-19, and perceptions of identity and autonomy. Even among individuals who frequently wear face coverings, there are opportunities to improve compliance. Messaging should highlight how face coverings protect the wearer and others around them, normalize the use of face coverings in social settings, and emphasize requirements. Positive messages that focus on unity, personal experiences and the rationale for face coverings are recommended. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; health communication; face coverings; masks; health behavior COVID-19; health communication; face coverings; masks; health behavior
MDPI and ACS Style

Shelus, V.S.; Frank, S.C.; Lazard, A.J.; Higgins, I.C.A.; Pulido, M.; Richter, A.P.C.; Vandegrift, S.M.; Vereen, R.N.; Ribisl, K.M.; Hall, M.G. Motivations and Barriers for the Use of Face Coverings during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Messaging Insights from Focus Groups. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 9298. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249298

AMA Style

Shelus VS, Frank SC, Lazard AJ, Higgins ICA, Pulido M, Richter APC, Vandegrift SM, Vereen RN, Ribisl KM, Hall MG. Motivations and Barriers for the Use of Face Coverings during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Messaging Insights from Focus Groups. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(24):9298. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249298

Chicago/Turabian Style

Shelus, Victoria S.; Frank, Simone C.; Lazard, Allison J.; Higgins, Isabella C.A.; Pulido, Marlyn; Richter, Ana P.C.; Vandegrift, Sara M.; Vereen, Rhyan N.; Ribisl, Kurt M.; Hall, Marissa G. 2020. "Motivations and Barriers for the Use of Face Coverings during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Messaging Insights from Focus Groups" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 17, no. 24: 9298. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249298

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