Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Study shows psychological impact of COVID-19 on Chinese dental professionals

SHANGHAI, China: Given that SARS-CoV-2 originated in China, it is understandable that the nation’s emergency dental care providers have experienced an immense psychological burden since the virus was first discovered. A study of these workers has sought to better understand the exact way in which they have been affected by these experiences. The results of the study have confirmed the need for psychological support services during such difficult times.

To conduct the study, the researchers created a cross-sectional survey that was administered online between 3 and 10 April 2020 through the use of anonymised questionnaires. Participants were recruited from approximately 100 medical institutions across China with assistance from the emergency committee of the Chinese Stomatological Association, and 969 valid responses were collected.

By far the most common psychological issue reported was stress, and 66.2% of respondents stated that they had suffered from it as a result of the pandemic. Depression was cited by 13.4% of respondents, whereas 8.5% reported having a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by their work during this time. On the one hand anxiety affected 7.1% of responding dental professionals, whereas on the other hand 33.7% reported no psychological conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further analysis of the collected data showed that pre-existing physical disease was associated with a higher risk of depression and anxiety. In addition, the authors stated: “Having the feelings of fear, helplessness, or terror resulting from the possibility of contracting COVID-19 presented statistically significant differences in the psychological outcomes of depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and PTSD.”

“This research fills a gap in the literature on the psychological reactions of Chinese dental workers during a virus outbreak and lays the foundation for the establishment of the causal relationship between infectious diseases and the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity,” the authors noted.

They added: “Additionally, it helps improve programmes on psychological support for dental care workers and suggests a focus on preparation and interventions to aid psychological recovery after possible exposure to sources of infection.”

The study, titled “Psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on emergency dental care providers on the front lines in China”, was published online in the June 2021 issue of the International Dental Journal.

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