Self-perceived stressors of Bachelor of Oral Health students and implications for student support
Introduction: Despite a greater recent interest in students’ stressors in the dentistry learning environment, there is little research on oral health therapy students’ stressors. This study aimed to identify self-perceived stressors of Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH) students in order to determine whether the learning support provided to them at the University of Otago, Faculty of Dentistry is meeting their needs and to make recommendations for future support strategies.
Methods: All Bachelor of Oral Health students (n = 135) were invited to complete an online modified version of the Dental Environmental Stress Survey in 2016. The questionnaire included 31 items on potential sources of stress, which students were asked to rate on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 “not at all stressful” to 5 “extremely stressful”.
Results: About half of the respondents were first-year students, with the remainder equally distributed between second- and third-year students. The items “fear of being unable to catch up if behind” and “examinations and assessments” scored the highest, indicating that the students perceived these to be their greatest stressors. Although there were some individual high-scoring self-perceived personal stressors for students, overall, academic requirements were the highest scoring stressors, regardless of year group. Clinical environment stressors were rated highest for students in the second year, corresponding to when students start seeing patients.
Conclusion: This study identified several self-perceived stressors for BOH students. The findings suggest that students require extra support at different stages of the program, for example, when they begin to treat patients. Future research should be directed at investigating what types of support programs would be of most benefit to students.
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