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Original research
Mask-associated ‘de novo’ headache in healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
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  1. José María Ramirez-Moreno1,2,
  2. David Ceberino2,
  3. Alberto Gonzalez Plata2,
  4. Belen Rebollo2,
  5. Pablo Macias Sedas2,
  6. Roshan Hariramani2,
  7. Ana M Roa2,
  8. Ana B Constantino2
  1. 1Biomedical Sciences, University of Extremadura, Faculty of Medicine, Badajoz, Spain
  2. 2Neurology, Badajoz University Hospital, Badajoz, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr José María Ramirez-Moreno, Biomedical Sciences, Universidad de Extremadura Facultad de Medicina, Badajoz 06006, Spain; jramrez{at}unex.es

Abstract

Objectives The pandemic caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed care activities of health professionals. We analysed the possible association between the appearance of ‘de novo’ headache according to the type of mask used, the related factors and the impact of the cephalalgia on health professionals.

Methods Cross-sectional study in a tertiary hospital in Extremadura, Spain. We provided an online questionnaire to healthcare workers during the period of maximum incidence of COVID-19 in our setting.

Results The subjects are n=306, 244 women (79.7%), with an average age of 43 years (range 23–65). Of the total, 129 (42.2%) were physicians, 112 (36.6%) nurses and 65 (21.2%) other health workers. 208 (79.7%) used surgical masks and 53 (20.3%) used filter masks. Of all those surveyed, 158 (51.6%) presented ‘de novo’ headache. The occurrence of a headache was independently associated with the use of a filter mask, OR 2.14 (95% CI 1.07 to 4.32); being a nurse, OR 2.09 (95% CI 1.18 to 3.72) or another health worker, OR 6.94 (95% CI 3.01 to 16.04); or having a history of asthma, OR 0.29 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.89). According to the type of mask used, there were differences in headache intensity, and the impact of a headache in the subjects who used a filter mask was worse in all the aspects evaluated.

Conclusion The appearance of ‘de novo’ headache is associated with the use of filter masks and is more frequent in certain healthcare workers, causing a greater occupational, family, personal and social impact.

  • clinical medicine
  • health and safety
  • occupational health practice
  • public health
  • exposure assessment

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Footnotes

  • Collaborators Juan Rodrigo Ross

  • Contributors JMR-M designed the study, collected data, made statistical analysis plan, wrote the first draft and submitted the manuscript. DC collected data and edited the manuscript for intellectual content. AG-P collected data and edited the manuscript for intellectual content. BR collected data and edited the manuscript for intellectual content. PMS collected data and edited the manuscript for intellectual content. RH collected data and edited the manuscript for intellectual content. AR collected data and edited the manuscript for intellectual content. ABC collected data and edited the manuscript for intellectual content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article. No obstante, all the data with which this work has been prepared are available to any researcher upon reasonable and understandable request to the corresponding author.

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