Fear and Anxiety among Dental Students and Dentistry as a Career Choice Following the COVID-19 Pandemic in Saudi Arabia: A Cross-sectional Study
AlBandary Hassan AlJameel,
Riyadh, P. O. Box-60169, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Introduction: The Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant psychological impact on people's lives, including healthcare providers. This impact has manifested in the form of anxiety and fear. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spread through the mouth and nose, dental practitioners have experienced anxiety due to their close proximity to the oro-nasal tissues.
Aim: To assess the mental health condition, specifically fear and anxiety, of a group of dental students in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 pandemic and to explore students' perceptions about dentistry as a career choice following the pandemic.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was conducted, which included demographic data, the Coronavirus Anxiety Scale (CAS), the Fear of COVID-19 Scale (FCV-19S), as well as a few questions to assess why students chose dentistry as a career and their perceptions about dentistry as a career following the pandemic. A digital link to the questionnaires was distributed through social media outlets such as Twitter, WhatsApp, etc., with the aim of reaching dental students across all dental schools in Saudi Arabia. Dental students and those undergoing internships from both public and private Dental Colleges across Saudi Arabia were approached. The study included a total of 633 students from 21 dental schools across Saudi Arabia. Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, including Analysis of Variance(ANOVA), independent t-tests, and Chi-square tests.
Results: Fear and anxiety levels were found to be the highest among interns and fourth-year dental students, respectively. A total of 346 (54.66%) of the respondents reported that they chose dentistry as a career due to personal desire. Approximately, 239 (37.8%) of the respondents reported being either 'Not Sure' or would not choose dentistry as a career if they had the choice, considering the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conclusion: Fear and anxiety were reported to be higher among dental students exposed to clinical practice. The majority of dental students reported that they would still choose dentistry as a career option despite the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.