Thursday, January 21, 2021
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How to get Sydneysiders to wear masks

#Although condoms and lifejackets may appear to be very different products to face masks, lessons learnt over the past 40 years from encouraging condom and lifejacket use should be used to inform efforts to increase mask wearing.

#Requirement: lifejackets have become much more acceptable.#Credit:#Craig #Abraham

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#Marketing for condoms and lifejackets has focused on the fact that they will not inhibit enjoyment. #In fact, normalising the wearing of lifejackets whenever one is on or near the water is similar to the need to normalise mask wear outside the home during the COVID-19 pandemic. #We must normalise mask use so that it is seen as essential as our wallet, keys and phone when leaving the house, and no barrier to a regular life.

#It has been suggested that men may associate the use of masks as being “unmanly”, shameful or a sign of weakness. #Before condoms were widely accepted, these devices also had to overcome perceptions that wearing them indicated deficiencies.

#To combat this, during the first wave of HIV infection in the 1980s, condoms were marketed as a way to demonstrate that you were a responsible sexual citizen.

#Similarly, research into low lifejacket wear among adults indicated that concerns about being perceived as inexperienced boaters or as weak swimmers made people less likely to wear lifejackets. #However, design changes and role modelling by big wave surfers and sports stars are reframing lifejackets as essential kit for those in the know.

#In the same way, celebrities and social media could be used to encourage mask wearing, and promote them as a way to be a responsible member of society, particularly with younger generations, which may be less risk-averse and unlikely to listen to politicians and health experts.


The use of celebrities could also help to get the message across to those consuming their news in non-traditional ways and celebrities have already been involved in advocating use.

#Design improvements have helped life jackets and condoms become more accepted. These include the move to slim-fit inflatable lifejackets and new materials such as polyurethane. #In the case of condoms, female versions that can be used by receptive sex partners have been devised. #An equivalent trend with masks is that manufacturers are now allowing the user to individualise their mask design and this could play a role in increasing mask wear rates.

#However, as designs change and sales increase, we must maintain efficacy in design and ensure community understanding of how to choose the correct device in terms of suitability and fit.


#Like condoms and lifejackets, masks can slip off, be worn inappropriately, and taken off too soon, all of which reduce effectiveness.

#Clear communication from governments and health departments must be maintained regarding mask hygiene including guidance on suitable materials, re-use and storage to ensure efficacy and minimise infection transmission.

#Let’s all do our bit for a safe 2021. #Just as wearing a condom protects each of us and our sexual partners and a lifejacket reduces the risk to ourselves and rescuers, masks must be seen as part of a communal effort to keep our communities, and loved ones, safe. #That way we can all get back to a new normal.

#Dr #Amy #Peden is a lecturer with the #School of #Population #Health at UNSW #Sydney. #She is the co-author of recent work on mask acceptance and lifejacket wear.

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