Perceived stress among dental students at the University of the Western Cape
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Introduction: A high prevalence of stress among dental students has been reported. Aim: To determine perceived stress among dental students at the University of the Western Cape. Method: A self-administered questionnaire to students (n=411) was used to collect data. Variables measured included demographic characteristics of students and their perceived stress in the dental environment using the Dental Environment Stress (DES) survey and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Results: The response rate was 78%. Respondents were in the 18 to 21 age category; mostly female (n=207); multilingual, with 63% having English as their home language. Huge problems identified from the DES were lack of time for relaxation, inadequate breaks during the day, fear of failing a year or module, work load, inconsistency between clinical supervisors and patients being late for appointments. The MBI found high EE (28.91), low DP (7.13) and high PA (30.06) scores. Fourth year students experienced the highest degree of stress on the DES and MBI. Conclusion: Stressors identified are consistent with international dental literature. Levels of stress increased over the academic years and peaked in the fourth year. Stressors experienced may impact student academic and future professional development, motivating a need for intervention at Faculty level.