The healthcare field is struggling with urgent questions about how to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Health systems, clinicians, policymakers, and the general public want evidence to inform critical decisions. In the face of a rapidly changing field and an ongoing pandemic in which people need to make healthcare decisions quickly, the Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program has commissioned "living reviews" with regularly updated literature searches, to keep the medical community and the public up to date as more studies are published and these living reviews put new studies in the context of what is known.
This rapid review was commissioned to inform practice pointers developed by the American College of Physicians. As of September 2020, the American College of Physicians will not be updating its practice pointers. Given this and current practice, routine surveillance of the published literature will not be conducted for this AHRQ report. This rapid review may be updated in the future if new evidence becomes available and it becomes a priority to inform decisionmaking.
The review examined two questions:
Question 1. What is the effectiveness of respirators (e.g., N95) versus facemasks (surgical) versus cloth masks for prevention of COVID-19 in addition to standard precautions (gowns + gloves + handwashing)?
- In community settings
- In healthcare settings
- In high-risk healthcare settings (e.g., intensive care unit, emergency department)
- In healthcare settings with close contact but unknown risk (e.g., primary care, other settings)
Question 2. What is the evidence for extended use or reuse of N95 respirators for prevention of COVID-19?
Qaseem A, Etxeandia-Ikobaltzeta I, Yost J, Humphrey LL. Update Alert: Use of N95, Surgical, or Cloth Masks to Prevent COVID-19 in Health Care and Community Settings: Living Practice Points From the American College of Physicians (Version 1). Ann Intern Med. 2020 Oct 27. doi: 10.7326/L20-1268. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33105092.
Rapid Review and Update Alerts Journal Citation
Chou R, Dana T, Jungbauer R, et al. Masks for prevention of respiratory virus infections, including SARS-CoV-2, in health care and community settings. A living rapid review. Ann Intern Med. 24 June 2020. [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.7326/M20-3213.
Rapid Review Citation
Suggested citation: Chou R, Dana T, Jungbauer R, Weeks C, McDonagh M. Masks for Prevention of COVID-19 in Community and Healthcare Settings. Version 2. Rapid Evidence Product. (Prepared by the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2015-00009-I). AHRQ Publication No. 20-EHC019. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. June 2020. Posted final reports are located on the Effective Health Care Program search page. DOI: 10.23970/AHRQEPCCOVIDMASKS2.