Students’ knowledge, attitudes and practices related to infection control in undergraduate dental clinical training during COVID-19 A report from one South African university
Keywords:incontrol, COVID-19, dental students, learning
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for renewed conversations in infection control in the context of dental undergraduate learning. This study set out to examine dental therapy and oral hygiene students’ knowledge, attitudes and practices
related to infection control.This quantitative survey was conducted at one dental training site in South Africa. The study population
comprised 156 full time enrolled students that was stratified into Year 1 (n=55), Year 2 (n=54) and Year 3 (n=47). An online, self-administered questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions was used to collect information. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 25.0 (IBM Corp., USA) and thematic analysis. The response rate for the study was 70.5% (n=111).Almost all participants (n=104) strongly agreed/agreed that COVID-19 is transmitted mainly through infected droplets. Most participants (Year 1: n=24, 22.5%; Year
2: n=28, 26.2%; Year 3: 22, 31.2%) strongly disagreed / disagreed that younger people were less susceptible to contracting COVID-19 disease. While 23 first (21.5%) and 16 second-year students (14.9%) strongly agreed/agreed that personal protective gear was sufficient protection against COVID-19, about 16 third-year students (14%) were unsure or disagreed. Almost all participants (n=105, 98.1%) strongly agreed/agreed to washing or sanitizing their hands regularly. The emergent themes from qualitative data analysis included: better access to resources and more coordinated planning for clinical and classroom-based learning. There were inconsistencies in participants’ knowledge and attitudes towards infection control. There is a need for ongoing awareness of infection control in both clinical and class-room based learning.
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