The deep impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical students: An online cross-sectional study evaluating Turkish students' anxiety

Int J Clin Pract. 2021 Mar 8;e14139. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.14139. Online ahead of print.


Aim: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) changed the delivery of medical education in Turkey by moving to an emergency remote teaching system and led to many challenges for future doctors. In this study, we aimed to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical students, to assess their anxiety level and their main anxiety sources related to this pandemic.

Methods: A Google Form was distributed to medical students using the virtual snowball sampling method. The form included the Beck Anxiety Inventory and additional 19 questions on sociodemographic characteristics, perceived level of knowledge about the epidemic, self-risk perceptions of COVID-19 and their anxiety levels about some other topics related to COVID-19.

Results: Overall, 3105 medical students with a mean age of 22.37 ± 2.46, took the survey. Amongst the participants, only 32% of the students defined their knowledge about the precautions that should be taken during an epidemic disease as acceptable. Students reported highest anxiety level for the continuing spread of COVID-19 in Turkey and transmitting coronavirus to another person. Clinically significant anxiety prevalence was 23.2%. Regression analysis revealed that factors that increased the risk of being anxious included being female, being other than a 5th-year student, thinking that being a medical student would increase the risk of coronavirus transmission or being uncertain about it, being exposed to a patient with COVID-19 or being uncertain about it, being anxious about the continuing spread of COVID-19 in Turkey, being anxious about acquiring COVID-19, being anxious for graduating and being on active duty, being anxious about a medical training interruption.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that anxiety is prevalent amongst Turkish medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic and they have a weak preparedness for a pandemic such as COVID-19. Based on our results, new strategies should be implemented for medical education and for alleviating students' anxiety levels.