The self-perceived sources of stress among dental students at a South African dental school and their methods of coping

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    INTRODUCTION : Dental students have reported that, as a result of the nature of the dental curriculum, they are under severe stress while studying. AIM : to determine how students perceived the sources of stress and to identify the coping mechanisms used. METHODS : This was a cross-sectional analytical study using a standardized self-administered questionnaire. All dental students registered in 2015 were invited to participate. All data was secured as confidential and anonymous. RESULTS : Responses were received from 224 students (74%, of whom 26% were male). One third of responding males and 45% of responding females reported severe levels of stress. Clinical students reported a significantly higher (p=0.002) prevalence of severe stress over non-clinical students. The most common causes of severe stress were fear of failure (47%) and high workload (38%). The coping mechanisms included sleeping (64%) and watching television (55%). More than a quarter contemplated changing from Dentistry as a result of their perceived stress. Those who reported having severe stress were 1.8 and 2.1 times more likely to quit Dentistry or to commit suicide. CONCLUSION: Females and clinical students reported higher levels of severe stress. Those with severe stress were significantly more likely to contemplate quitting Dentistry or suicide.