Does the fit of personal protective equipment affect functional performance? A systematic review across occupational domains

Brooke R. Brisbine, Ceridwen R. Radcliffe, Monica L.H. Jones, Leia Stirling, Celeste E. Coltman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective To explore the effect of personal protective equipment (PPE) fit on functional performance across a range of occupational domains. Background PPE introduces an ergonomic, human systems integration, and mass burden to the wearer, and these factors are thought to be amplified if PPE is ill-fitting. However, few studies have considered the role of fit (static, dynamic, and cognitive) when evaluating PPE-related performance detriments in occupational settings. Method A systematic literature review was conducted to identify relevant studies, which were then critically appraised based on methodological quality and collated to compare key findings and present evidence-based recommendations for future research directions across a range of occupational domains. Results 16 published studies met the inclusion criteria, 88% of which found that the fit of PPE had a statistically significant effect on occupational performance. Poorly sized PPE resulted in slower or increased reaction time; decreased range of motion or mobility; decreased endurance or tolerance; decreased pulmonary function; and altered muscle activation. Limited research met the inclusion criteria and those that did had risks of bias in methodology quality. Conclusion Future research evaluating the effect of PPE on performance in occupational settings should aim to recruit a more representative population; consider sex as a covariate; quantify and evaluate PPE fit and performance when integrated with all relevant equipment items; include outcome measures related to all three categories of fit (static, dynamic, cognitive); and assess performance of operationally relevant tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0278174
Number of pages31
JournalPLoS One
Volume17
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022

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