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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

versión On-line ISSN 2225-4765
versión impresa ISSN 0379-8046


KHAN, Nasim B. et al. Health sciences students' perception of the communicative impacts of face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic at a South African University. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2022, vol.69, n.2, pp.1-14. ISSN 2225-4765.

BACKGROUND: The use of face masks and/or shields can pose a challenge during communication. They block facial expressions thus removing visual cues and affect sound transmission making it difficult to hear speech clearly. Given the widespread use of face coverings, it seems reasonable to clarify if communication in typical speakers and listeners has significantly differed. Health science students as future practitioners need to understand challenges that arise from using face coverings OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to determine health sciences students' perception of the communicative impacts of face coverings METHOD: The study employed a descriptive, self-administered online survey, obtaining information from 96 health science undergraduate students RESULTS: All participants changed their manner of speaking in that they spoke louder when wearing masks and focused more on eye contact when someone was wearing masks. These were statistically significant (p = 0.450 and p = 0.035 respectively). Fifty-three percent reported using more listening effort and feeling anxious when communicating. Approximately 33% indicated that it was challenging to read emotions, such as sad or unhappy, when someone wore a mask. Most, 61%, were positive or very positive about wearing masks. The level of difficulty differed depending on the listening environment. It was harder to understand the doctor, nurse, or other healthcare workers when they wore face coverings than when listening to their friends and family, which had little effect, this being statistically significant (p = 0.025 CONCLUSION: Challenges envisaged in practice included frequent communication breakdowns, inability to connect and build trust between patient and practitioner, and communicating in noisy environments. Coping strategies, future clinical and research implications were proposed, and limitations acknowledged

Palabras clave : communicative impacts; face coverings; COVID-19 pandemic; perceptions; challenges.

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