Headaches Associated with Personal Protective Equipment - A Cross-sectional Study Amongst Frontline Healthcare Workers During COVID-19 (HAPPE Study)
One article on PainSci cites Ong 2020: The Complete Guide to Chronic Tension Headaches
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND: COVID-19 is an emerging infectious disease of pandemic proportions. Healthcare workers in Singapore working in high-risk areas were mandated to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 face-mask and protective eyewear while attending to patients. OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine the risk factors associated with the development of de novo PPE-associated headaches as well as the perceived impact of these headaches on their personal health and work performance. The impact of COVID-19 on pre-existing headache disorders was also investigated. METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study amongst healthcare workers at our tertiary institution who were working in high-risk hospital areas during COVID-19. All respondents completed a self-administered questionnaire. RESULTS: A total of 158 healthcare workers participated in the study. Majority [126/158 (77.8%)] were aged 21-35 years. Participants included nurses [102/158 (64.6%)], doctors [51/158 (32.3%)] and paramedical staff [5/158 (3.2%)]. Pre-existing primary headache diagnosis was present in about a third [46/158 (29.1%)] of respondents. Those based at the emergency department had higher average daily duration of combined PPE exposure compared to those working in isolation wards [7.0 (SD 2.2) vs 5.2 (SD 2.4) hours, p<0.0001] or medical ICU [7.0 (SD 2.2) vs 2.2 (SD 0.41) hours, p<0.0001]. Out of 158 respondents, 128 (81.0%) respondents developed de novo PPE-associated headaches. A pre-existing primary headache diagnosis (OR=4.20, 95% CI 1.48-15.40; p=0.030) and combined PPE usage for>4 hours per day (OR 3.91, 95% CI 1.35-11.31; p=0.012) were independently associated with de novo PPE-associated headaches. Since COVID-19 outbreak, 42/46 (91.3%) of respondents with pre-existing headache diagnosis either 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that the increased PPE usage had affected the control of their background headaches, which affected their level of work performance. CONCLUSION: Most healthcare workers develop de novo PPE-associated headaches or exacerbation of their pre-existing headache disorders.
- “Headaches due to external compression,” Krymchantowski, Curr Pain Headache Rep, 2010.
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