The Multifaceted Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Dentists in Tamil Nadu, India: A Qualitative Study ZC07-ZC12
F 1, Hyder Manzil, Kamakodi Nagar, Main Road, Pallikaranai, Chennai-600100, Tamil Nadu, India.
Introduction: India has become the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) epicentre with the highest number of COVID-19 cases being reported each day. This has caused a major impact on healthcare workers including dentists across the country. Most dental clinics in Tamil Nadu were closed during the initial two months of draconian lockdown enforced by the Government of India (GOI). As partial lockdown measures were introduced over the subsequent months, dental clinics have started functioning and receiving patients for emergency dental treatment.
Aim: This study was done among dentists practicing in Tamil Nadu amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to understand how the pandemic has impacted their professional and personal lives.
Materials and Methods: A qualitative study using online focus group discussion was conducted among 32 dentists practicing in Tamil Nadu, India using a structured interview guide in the month of July 2020. After data collection, the focus group discussions were transcribed manually and an inductive thematic analysis was performed using Braun and Clarke's six phases for thematic analysis.
Results: Three major themes were identified after the thematic analysis namely limitations of off-campus distance learning, challenges faced in dental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and social life impacts of COVID-19 among dentists.
Conclusion: Dentists in this study felt that the COVID-19 pandemic was negatively impacting their dental practices owing to lack of clarity in COVID-19 protocols, lack of patient awareness, high cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), increasing overhead expenses, ergonomic difficulties in treating patients while wearing PPE, patients' unwillingness to pay higher charges for treatment under COVID-19 protocols and fear of contracting COVID-19. Majority of participants in this study did not report any negative impacts of social isolation as many of them had stayed with their families during the lockdown.