Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Linda Niccolai


The United States has faced challenges in reestablishing normalcy as we learn to live with COVID-19. This has included adhering to competent infection containment guidelines. Despite evidence that masks can assist in COVID-19 transmission reduction, the mere suggestion has sparked outrage, violence, and even death in communities across the country. To safely reintroduce any semblance of normalcy that has been lost over the last year, it is critical to consider the variables that influence one's internal personal perspectives and to comprehend how this influences various behavioral responses. Several critical risk communication principles can aid scientists in better understanding how people in various parts of the country are reacting to the threat of SARS-CoV-2. The purpose of this paper was to gain a better understanding of the specific attitudes, social structures, and shared belief systems that surround public safety and intervention adherence, specifically regarding the use of face masks in public places to prevent COVID-19 transmission. The primary objective was to gain a better understanding of the social and attitudinal factors that influence mask use or nonuse. The results of this review will provide a comprehensive explanation for the behaviors observed in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic by applying risk communication concepts such as risk perception and risk assessment to the challenges associated with public health recommendations to wear a face mask in public.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access