JAMA Surgery — During the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing masks has become necessary, especially within health care. However, to our knowledge, the consequences of mask wearing on communication between surgeons and patients have not been studied.
Patients reported improved communication when surgeons donned a clear mask, suggesting that not seeing the surgeon’s face may have negative consequences for the surgeon-patient relationship.
In this randomized clinical trial of 200 patients, when surgeons wore clear masks rather than standard covered masks, patients rated their surgeon significantly higher in providing understandable explanations, demonstrating empathy, and eliciting trust.
Because masks will remain part of the health care landscape for some time, deliberate attention to preserving communication within the surgeon-patient relationship is warranted.
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