A study of environmental factors affecting nurses' comfort and protection in wearing N95 respirators during bedside procedures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims and objectives: To investigate room temperature and relative humidity affecting nurses' comfort and protection in wearing N95 respirators during clinical bedside procedures.
Background: N95 respirators are most commonly used to protect healthcare workers against airborne diseases. The elastic head straps required for tight‐fit may cause headache, facial pain and/or ear lobe discomfort. Although some past fit test results showed that these respirators are likely to fit comfortably, in reality, any discomfort from use may influence negatively their appeal and acceptability and thus lower their effectiveness to protect the wearers.
Design: This study used a comparative study design to compare nurses' comfort and protection in wearing N95 respirator during clinical nursing procedures.
Method: The participants (84) were first‐year undergraduate nursing students from a university in Hong Kong. They were divided randomly into four groups (A, B, C and D), with 21 in each group. In this study, they performed the Personal Respirator Sampling Test (PRST), a self‐developed portable, real‐time fit test method based on the conventional fit test set‐up. After this, they were asked to complete a usability questionnaire, which was used to record their evaluations of the six perceptions of comfort of wearing N95 respirators.
Results: The participants expressed being comfortable with the respirators at warm temperatures of 20 to 24°C. For those participants in Group A who had performed fit tests and fit checks, they did not feel hot nor had difficulties with breathing. However, they did feel tightness in the respirators and experienced discomfort on their ear lobes.
Conclusion: Room temperature is the significant factor affecting the comfort in wearing N95 respirators. It is noteworthy that any discomforts from wearing respirators will negatively influence their appeal and proper use. Without doubt, comfortable fit makes healthcare workers more likely use respirators, hence complying with occupational health and safety regulations.
Relevance to clinical practice: N95 respirator wearer's comfort is affected by room temperature. Wearer's comfort can affect his/her morale in performing bedside procedures in clinical practice. Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1477-e1484
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number7-8
Early online dateJan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


Mechanical Ventilators
Occupational Health
Delivery of Health Care
Facial Pain
Nursing Students
Hong Kong
Nuclear Family


Or, P. P. L., Chung, J. W. Y., & Wong, T. K. S. (2018). A study of environmental factors affecting nurses' comfort and protection in wearing N95 respirators during bedside procedures. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(7-8), e1477-e1484. doi: 10.1111/jocn.14268


  • Clinical
  • Comfort
  • Compliance
  • Infection control
  • Occupational health