Effects of mask use on cardiopulmonary functions and coronaphobia in the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study among university students

Üstündağ H., Akbaba Ö., Huyut M.

Medical Gas Research, vol.14, no.2, pp.75-83, 2024 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.4103/2045-9912.385440
  • Journal Name: Medical Gas Research
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.75-83
  • Erzincan Binali Yildirim University Affiliated: Yes


Mask use during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been widely recommended and mandated worldwide. However, there is a lack of comprehensive research on the potential adverse health effects of mask usage. This study aimed to investigate and evaluate the negative effects of surgical mask use on scientifically proven cardiopulmonary functions in undergraduate and associate degree students, as well as its impact on coronaphobia. A total of 145 volunteer university students (49 males, 96 females, with a mean age of 20 years) were enrolled in the study, which consisted of two 120-minute sessions. Blood oxygen saturation, heart rate, and blood pressure were assessed before and immediately after each session. The Coronavirus-19 Phobia Scale was utilized to measure levels of COVID-19 phobia. While a time-dependent decrease in oxygen saturation level, blood pressure, and heart rate was measured when vital signs were evaluated at 1 and 120 minutes, none of the values fell outside the reference range. The study also investigated the effects of mask use on various symptoms including headaches, visual impairment, facial discomfort, earaches, shortness of breath, and anxiety. Significantly increased occurrences of all these symptoms were observed at the 60th and 120th minute compared with the baseline. The participants enrolled in the study demonstrated a moderate level of COVID-19 phobia based on the mean total score. Furthermore, high scores were recorded in the psychological and social sub-dimensions, while lower scores were recorded in the economic and psychosomatic sub-dimensions. In the post-COVID-19 normalization phase, the use of a surgical mask during a 120-minute course was found to have no significant impact on cardiopulmonary functions, but moderately affected coronaphobia scores.