The psychosocial effect of the COVID-19 national lockdown on Dentistry and Oral Hygiene students
Keywords:COVID-19 lockdown, anxiety, fear of COVID-19, food insecurity, dental students, oral health/hygiene students, psychosocial factors.
The COVID-19 lockdown has had a psychological and social impact on dental students globally. To determine the psychosocial effect on students enrolled in dentistry and oral hygiene courses at UWC. To determine the psychosocial effects (living conditions, levels of anxiety, fear of COVID-19, and food security levels) experienced by students during the lockdown. A descriptive, cross-sectional study using a quantitative approach was used. Methods: A randomised sample (n=250), stratified by sex and academic year group,
comprising undergraduate oral hygiene BOH total students = 90 and dentistry BDS total students = 450 (UWC, 2020) was used. Data was gathered via an online survey, (Google Forms). Survey questions included the GAD-7, FCV-19S questionnaire, and Food Security scales. The data were analysed using Epi Info 7. The response rate was 36% (n=90); 69.67% were female; the mean age was 22.34 (SD = 2.66); 91% lived with their parents during lockdown. Students’ main sources of funding were parents (47%), NSFAS or bursary (42%) and self-funded (11%). Substantial psychosocial effects with high anxiety (33%), fear of COVID-19 (47.3 %), and a lesser effect for food
insecurity (FI) (5.49%) was reported. The study showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to psychosocial effects in a discipline that under ‘normal” conditions is experienced as stressful. This requires educational institutions to develop a targeted
approach through relevant support systems that would identify vulnerable students at critical times.
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