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Scoping review finds dentists lacked infection control training during pandemic

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Researchers in Pakistan say that many oral healthcare workers in hospitals and dental clinics did not receive adequate training during the pandemic, and that a stronger focus on the mental health of frontline staff is required. (Image: DisobeyArt/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Wed. 10. August 2022

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A study led by researchers at Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University in Islamabad has examined the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the psychological health of oral healthcare workers (OHCWs) and its effect on dental practices. In addition to finding that OHCWs experienced increased psychological distress and had concerns about the future of dentistry, the researchers found that OHCWs were provided with inadequate training relating to controlling the spread of the virus.

During the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, OHCWs experienced psychological distress owing to financial concerns, concerns about becoming infected, and work-related concerns such as those related to workload and training. The researchers reported that a lack of training and equipment was a source of additional concern for OHCWs. They said that hospitals and dental clinics had not been prepared for the outbreak and that one study had found that only 12.6% of the dental staff had attended infection control training on SARS-CoV-2.

They wrote, “This is the need of the hour that OHCWs should get proper training sessions to cater to this current pandemic situation. This pandemic has been a major setback for dental students too. Dental education has been affected adversely during this time since dental practice plays a major role in learning dentistry, which cannot be achieved by online learning.” They said that a stronger focus on the mental health of OHCWs was needed and that such a focus would provide benefits when OHCWs are faced with infection control challenges in the future.

The findings that the psychological health of OHCWs was affected during the pandemic and that they were concerned about becoming infected, owing to increased exposure to the virus, echoed those of studies on the effects of the SARS outbreak on front-line healthcare workers, the researchers wrote.

The studies included in the scoping review were conducted in China, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The study, titled “The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the psychological health and dental practice of oral healthcare workers: A scoping review”, was published on 26 July 2022 in Risk Management and Healthcare Policy.

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