Many of you probably read about the Danish study just published that seems to question whether masks are effective or not. This is a good example of data that can be easily misinterpreted and lead you astray. It is important to look at the whole article, the context, and other aspects before accepting the results. Even the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine question the findings and point out the limitations, including that the rate of actual mask wearing was low in the intervention group. If you want to learn more about how to analyze a study, try reading this article about reading studies, and then read the article itself, and then the editorial that points out the pitfalls. This will teach you a lot about how scientific studies are analyzed and criticized.
This study from Denmark has potential to mislead people into thinking that masks don’t work. The truth is it does not prove that. It does show that in the context of the study, encouraging wearing masks did not seem to prevent the wearer from getting infected, but it did not disprove it either. The study did not look to see if it prevented a wearer from giving the infection to others, which is the main reason masks are recommended. Reviewing the Infodemic blog can help us look at studies like this and interpret the study more meaningfully.
So many continue to make excuses about mask wearing that a study like this and the ineffective journalism in writing about the results may cause a back lash once again to wearing masks. However, slowly other data is coming to show that masks are safe and effective and do not lower oxygen in the system and are safe while exercising.
I don’t know about you but all of this makes me anxious, which can interfere with my sleep. Insomnia is just about the number one complaint I hear from my patients the past few months. I myself have to work hard on my bedtime routines and my relaxation techniques, but still I fail when I can’t turn off my brain. Lots of good resources are available to help us change our approach to sleep so we don’t need to rely on pills to help us get there. I have found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia to be helpful. Insomnia Coach is another great free APP from the VA to help with sleep. Stretching before bed can help too. And don’t forget to re-set your COVID brain and relieve anxiety by getting out into nature, even in the cold.
Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, get some sleep.
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.
https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-7499 editorial Danish study
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201116184442.htm masks and exercise