The problem with communication stress from face masks
Objective. Widely present pandemic-related stress resulting from the use of face masks needs definition, evaluation and treatment. Mouth coverings hamper communication, increasing stress that possibly compromises the immune system and psychological well-being of patients, health professionals and general population. Most present mouth coverings have limited antiviral efficacy but possess social and political value in addition to positive and negative psychological implications. Transparent filtering materials have become available and may help reduce communication stress, alongside several cognitive approaches. Method. A systematic search was performed of the period 2000-2020 using the keywords, with no language limits, of databases including MEDLINE/PubMed, Science Direct, PsycInfo, Google Scholar and Cochrane. The search produced 247 articles, of which 84 were partly relevant. Conclusion. Communication stress showed to be relevant in all clinical situations and in the general population. Currently no specific solutions for face mask-related communication stress are available, save for an increased use of body language and stress management. Transparent face coverings could be a panacea. Treatment of pandemic-related stress should have specific itemized protocols.