Objective: In primary care, during treatments, nurses may need to wear surgical masks, namely for control of infection contamination, or to minimize unpleasant odors. The goal of this study is to inspect the effect of nurses wearing the mask on patient perception of the nurse-patient relation.
Methods: A pre-post-test, control-experimental group design was employed with 60 patients treated in family health units. Patients responded to the Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire III (PSQ-III) regarding nurses’ communication, interpersonal manner, technical quality, as well regarding general satisfaction with the encounter. An additional question asked both patients and nurses how long they felt that the visit lasted.
Results: Results show that nurses wearing the surgical mask had significantly negative effects in all dimensions of PSQ-III and increased the perceived visit duration among both nurses and patients.
Conclusion: When a previous relationship exists, nurses wearing the surgical mask in primary care in Portugal negatively affects patient satisfaction with both the patient-nurse relation and the nurses’ technical quality.
Practice implications: Is important the nurse understand this impact to discuss with the colleagues the best strategy to minimize the negative impact to the patient- family nurse relation and manager this situation in the best way to the patient.