Chicago, US: In the first known US study of its kind, researchers recently assessed the mental health of frontline dentists and dental hygienists during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that dental care workers reported varying degrees of symptoms of anxiety and depression during peak periods of the virus outbreak. In addition, the study was the first of its kind to examine the relationship between the COVID-19 vaccine and mental health and reported that vaccinated dental care workers showed a lower prevalence of anxiety symptoms compared to unvaccinated ones.
The study is part of an ongoing collaborative research effort between the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) to understand the impact of COVID-19 on dental care workers. It was conducted from June 2020 to June 2021 and involved 8,902 dental care workers.
During the study period 17.7% of dentistry Healthcare workers reported symptoms of anxiety, 10.7% reported symptoms of depression, and 8.3% reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Interestingly, dental hygienists showed a higher prevalence of both anxiety and depression during the study than did dentists. According to the data, their depression (max. 17.3%) and anxiety (max. 28.3%) Symptom rates were highest at the end of 2020 but declined again in 2021. Dentists’ depression symptom rates remained largely unchanged throughout the year, and their anxiety symptoms decreased significantly in the second half of the study period.
At the end of the study period, 11.8% of dentists and 12.4% of hygienists showed symptoms of anxiety, and 8.1% of dentists and 8.4 dentists showed symptoms of depression.
“Interestingly, dental professionals report lower rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms than the general population, despite being on the front lines and providing oral health care during an epidemic,” said co-author Dr. Stacey Dershowitz, assistant professor. The clinical psychologist and director of the Clinical Center in the Professional Psychology Program at George Washington University, said in a press release.
“As the pandemic continues, it is critical that dental care workers continue to develop their ability to recognize signs and symptoms Mental health conditions within themselves and their colleagues, promote healthy work environments, reduce the impact of stress on the profession, and provide support for those who are emotionally struggling.”
“aHealthcare professionals, we must be committed to our health and wellness to provide optimal care to others“
– Professor Maria L. Geisinger, University of Alabama at Birmingham
According to the researchers, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine provided some relief for the participants. The data showed that unvaccinated dental care workers who were planning to vaccinate suffered significantly more Symptoms of anxiety (20.6%) compared with fully vaccinated dental workers (14.1%).
“We hope this is just the first of many steps in mental health monitoring for the entire oral care team,” commented co-author Dr. JoAnn Gurenlian, ADHA’s director of education and research. She noted that “a lot of work needs to be done to remove barriers to treatment and prioritize well-being in the oral care environment, as well as to consider future research on contributing factors to mental illness that may be unique to these professions.”
“As members of the dental profession, we are committed to improving the oral health of our patients and our communities. Furthermore, as healthcare professionals, we must be committed to our own health and wellness to take care of others optimally,” stated Prof. Maria L. Alabama in Birmingham. She noted that creating a professional environment that promotes open communication about general well-being can reduce stigma related to the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders for dental health care workers.