An overwhelming majority of Americans, 80%, believe that healthcare professionals should continue to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) even after the pandemic is over, with 51% willing to pay more for office visits to ensure their doctor has access to gear, according to a survey of a thousand adult consumers in the US by the ActionPPE collective buying initiative.
When asked who should have the best access to PPE, 53% of respondents said dentists and orthodontists, placing them third. Surgeons led the category at 65%, followed by nurses and physicians assistants at 58%.
The survey results indicate that PPE use is here to stay, particularly masks, to protect doctors and patients during the pandemic and beyond, ActionPPE said. At a high level, Americans understand the importance of PPE in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 despite what often is portrayed by news outlets and social media, ActionPPE said.
However, Americans do have concerns that PPE shortages will continue, at least in the near term.
“It’s clear that PPE, particularly masks, are the preferred way to keep doctors and patients safe during the pandemic and after as well,” said Dr. Marcelo Hochman, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, founder of ActionPPE and president of the Charleston County Medical Society.
“At ActionPPE, we are most proud of doctors helping doctors during the PPE crisis, as they take matters into their own hands to protect themselves, their patients, and their communities by purchasing PPE directly from suppliers,” Hochman said.
Americans want their healthcare providers to wear masks during office visits, ActionPPE said. A clear majority, 58%, view masks as the most important PPE for healthcare providers to protect themselves while at work, followed by face shields (22%), gloves (12%), and gowns (4%).
While 57% believe it is more important for the healthcare worker to wear a mask than the patient, by a large margin Americans understand they play a role in the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep their providers safe, with 75% confirming masks are important for patients to wear during office visits. Face shields (13%), gloves (5%), and gowns (3%) are not viewed as nearly as important.
While the news media may paint a different picture of attitudes about mask-wearing, ActionPPE said, only 5% of Americans don’t think it’s important to wear protective gear, including masks. Also, 55% are willing to pay more for their office visit to ensure their healthcare providers have access to PPE:
- 51% are willing to pay an additional $5.
- 30% are willing to pay an additional $5 to $10.
- 13% are willing to pay an additional $10 to $15.
- 6% are willing to pay more than $15.
Americans additionally believe that PPE shortages will continue and support healthcare professionals taking action to ensure they have a sufficient supply of protective gear:
- 83% agree that it is appropriate for doctors to take action to source their own supply of PPE when faced with a shortage.
- 54% believe it is smart for doctors to purchase PPE directly from manufacturers in an emergency to protect themselves.
- 39% say it’s smart for doctors to purchase PPE directly at any time.
- Nearly 60% expect PPE shortages to continue for the foreseeable future.