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

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Chinese dental workers COVID
Photo: Elnur Amikishiyev 123RF

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 have confirmed the need for psychological support services during such difficult times.

To conduct the study—published in the International Dental Journal—researchers in China 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, with 66.2 per cent of respondents claiming to have suffered from it as a result of the pandemic. Depression was cited by 13.4 per cent of respondents, while 8.5 per cent reported having a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by their work during this time. 

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 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.”

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