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Association of COVID-19 Pandemic with undergraduate Medical Students’ Perceived Stress and Coping

Authors Abdulghani HM, Sattar K, Ahmad T, Akram A

Received 17 August 2020

Accepted for publication 7 October 2020

Published 30 October 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 871—881

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S276938

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


Hamza Mohammad Abdulghani, Kamran Sattar, Tauseef Ahmad, Ashfaq Akram

Department of Medical Education, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Correspondence: Kamran Sattar
Department of Medical Education, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Email [email protected]

Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic poses a major challenge for medical students’ learning and has become a potential stressor, with a profound influence on their psychological well-being. We aimed to determine the effect of the current pandemic on undergraduate medical students’ learning. We also explored the association of their stress level with coping strategies, educational, and psychological variables.
Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional design study, and participants were the 1st to 5th year medical students. A self-administered questionnaire (18 items) and a well-known Kessler 10 Psychological Distress questionnaire (10 items) were used to collect the data related to perceived stress with an association of educational, psychological, and coping variables.
Results: The prevalence of overall stress was significantly higher (χ 2= 16.3; P=0.000) in female medical students, ie, (40%) as compared to the male students (16.6%), and was highest (48.8%) during the 3rd medical year. It was also noted that the most effective strategy, embraced by students to cope with the severe stress, was “indulging in religious activities” (OR= 1.08; P=0.81). Furthermore, 22.3% of students had perceived severe stress as they did not prefer online learning. Similarly, those students who have not believed or refused the online learning or disagree in “there is pleasure in the study due to COVID” they have significantly higher stress (χ 2=39.7; P=0.000) 21.5% mild, 17.8% of moderate, and 21.2% severe.
Conclusion: We found that the COVID-19 pandemic has induced stress and changes in medical students’ educational attitudes and strategies. The results exhibited that the predominance of stress is higher in females than males, and also more stress was perceived by the students during their transitional year, ie, 3rd medical year (from pre-clinical to clinical) and also the respondents who regularly did religious meditation were at lower levels of stress. COVID-19’s influence on medical education and students’ well-being will be felt at an extended level, which necessitates an appropriate plan for preparedness.

Keywords: COVID-19, undergraduate medical education, learning, wellbeing, stress, coping

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