Masks and patients: Is it more difficult to communicate?

Diagnostic radiography student Alannah Thomas poses questions on radiographers' experiences with masks

Published: 26 February 2021 Students

alannah_thomas_radiography_student.jpgAUTHOR: ALANNAH THOMAS

Hi, I am Alannah, a 3rd year diagnostic radiography student. Recently I’ve been thinking about how we communicate with those in our care, when we are wearing masks.

In the clinical setting, all staff and students are required to wear masks in accordance with clinical guidance. Whilst on placement I have found it more difficult to communicate with patients, especially young children.

In my opinion, this is because of the mask covering half of mine and the patients face, making it harder to read facial expressions. I believe that it is tougher to build a rapport with patients because I am unable to portray as strong of a welcoming environment and harder to read the patients feelings. Being in a hospital is distressing experience at the best of times. As a result, I have found that my verbal communication has drastically changed through this time to try and make the patient more comfortable.

I’d love to know what your experience has been. If you have a few minutes, could you answer the following questions:

Have you noticed a change in how you talk with patients?

Do you struggle to understand patients whilst wearing masks?

Are there patient interactions that have been severely hindered due to masks? If yes, why?

What are the main difficulties you face when interacting with patients whilst wearing masks?

Is there anything you believe we could change to improve patient interactions?

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Or if you prefer, you can email [email protected].

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.