14 Marzo 2024

Mind the Mask!

An experimental study conducted during the emergency on more than 6,000 people reveals the perceived effectiveness of various protective measures. The results were published in Scientific Reports on the 28th of February 2024

Building on what was learnt to one's cost during the pandemic to improve health management in the future. This motivation has led scholars and researchers to take up the topic and investigate various aspects beyond the emergency phase.
Just recently, an article by the first signatory and corresponding author, Giuseppe Alessandro Veltri of the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Trento, focused on the public health guidelines adopted during the pandemic.
The research team assessed the effect perceived by the population on the risk of virus transmission through non-pharmacological interventions such as the use of masks, the location and duration of encounters, and interpersonal distance.
The experimental study was conducted online in June 2021 on a sample of 6567 unvaccinated persons. The experiments were administered in Bulgaria (1069), France (1108), Poland (1104), Italy (1087), Spain (1102) and Sweden (1097). The aim was to analyse how effective the different measures were in people's perceptions. The results showed that people perceived less risk of contagion when people were using a mask and when meetings were in the open instead of indoors. At the same time, there was little belief in the importance of maintaining a physical distance of one or two metres, preferring short meetings and limiting the number of participants. Further insights were made into differences according to country, gender, age, cognitive style (reflective or intuitive) and participants' level of fear of COVID-19.
The authors conclude, "Our results highlight the importance of improving behavioural aspects of health policies and public health literacy regarding the design of non-pharmacological interventions and the risk of transmission of SARS-Cov-2 and potential future viruses."
Scholars produced at least a hundred scientific publications as part of the project 'Periscope - Pan-European Response to the ImpactS of Covid-19 and future Pandemics and Epidemics', which had been funded by the European Commission with EUR 10 million through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme as part of the Coronavirus Global Response Initiative. The Periscope project, which involved 32 institutions from 15 European countries studying the pandemic's social, political and economic impact, ended in recent months. With such a wide scope, the research project continues to bring insights into public health management.
The article
The article, entitled 'Assessing the perceived effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions on SARS-Cov-2 transmission risk: an experimental study in Europe' (, was written by Giuseppe A. Veltri (University of Trento, Italy); Tim Büthe, Janina Isabel Steinert and Henrike Sternberg (Technische Universität München, Germany); Barbara Fasolo, Matteo M. Galizzi, George Gaskell and Ploutarchos Kourtidis (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK).

Article available in Open Access at