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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 85-90

COVID-19 vaccination status of senior dentistry students and their views on the changing educational processes in Turkey: A survey study


Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Pamukkale University, Denizli, Turkey

Date of Submission20-May-2022
Date of Decision04-Jul-2022
Date of Acceptance05-Jul-2022
Date of Web Publication09-Sep-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Hilal Ozbey
Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Pamukkale University, Kinikli, Denizli
Turkey
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/srmjrds.srmjrds_78_22

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  Abstract 

Background: COVID-19 has spread rapidly all over the world and has become a global concern. After March 16, 2020, dental education in Turkey completely switched to online education. Aim: This survey aimed to evaluate the opinion of students about online education. In addition, it aimed to determine the COVID-19 vaccine status of the students and whether they contracted the disease. Materials and Methods: This study was conducted with the use of a web-based survey and 281 senior intern dentistry students from different universities in Turkey participated in the survey. The survey consisted of questions created to understand the view of the students on online education during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, there were questions about the COVID-19 infection and COVID-19 vaccine experiences of the students. Descriptive analyses were done and differences between the gender was analyzed with Mann–Whitney U-test at a significance level of P ≤ 0.05. Results: In the study, 68.32% of the students thought COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected theoretical education and 83.27% of them thought COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected practical education. Of the surveyed students, 28.82% of them had COVID-19 infection. The percentage of students who had at least 1 dose of vaccine was 98.58%. Conclusions: The study revealed the unsatisfactory experience of students with the newly introduced online education during COVID-19 pandemic. It is gratifying to notice the higher rate of vaccination among students.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 vaccine, dental education, distance education, online education, pediatric dentistry education


How to cite this article:
Ozbey H, Ertugrul CC. COVID-19 vaccination status of senior dentistry students and their views on the changing educational processes in Turkey: A survey study. SRM J Res Dent Sci 2022;13:85-90

How to cite this URL:
Ozbey H, Ertugrul CC. COVID-19 vaccination status of senior dentistry students and their views on the changing educational processes in Turkey: A survey study. SRM J Res Dent Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 6];13:85-90. Available from: https://www.srmjrds.in/text.asp?2022/13/3/85/355827


  Introduction Top


A novel type of pneumonia was reported in December 2019 in China. In the following period, that respiratory disease was named as 'COVID-19'. The disease spread worldwide rapidly and became a global concern in a short period. Due to the rapid and sudden worldwide transmission of COVID-19, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, and primary, secondary, and higher education were suspended in Turkey. The Turkish Higher Education Council announced on March 23, 2020, that the education would be carried out with the online education model. During the transition from lockdown periods to gradual normalization in COVID-19 pandemic, a hybrid learning model has been used. It is a model in which some lessons were introduced via online platforms, while other lessons which cannot be delivered remotely, were introduced face-to-face.[1],[2],[3],[4]

Similar to the other parts of world, the dental education in Turkey was divided into parts; theoretical lessons and practical lessons. Practical lessons consist of preclinical laboratory lessons and clinical training lessons.[5] Online theoretical education has many advantages. It can provide students with easier, more effective, and faster access to a wider variety and amount of information. The scientific material can be easily updated by the lecturer. It also eliminates many expenses such as transportation and accommodation at a learning institution.[3] Online theoretical education also has many disadvantages. There is a lack of face-to-face interactions, group work, classroom activities, responsibilities, and social development. The presence of a stable internet connection can be difficult in some developing countries.[1],[6] Besides, not all students may have digital tools such as laptops or personal computers at home.[7] Preclinical laboratory lessons are one of the important parts of dentistry practical education. In such a pandemic environment, these lectures can be conducted using modern digital or virtual reality techniques providing 3D simulations and uploading recorded videos for demonstration. However, the available facilities of the faculty may not be sufficient to use such digital devices.[1],[8] Clinical training lessons in terms of internship training is the most important part of dental education. There should be close contact between the intern dentist and the patient as well as the lecturer. This part has been the most difficult part of dental education to deal with in a pandemic environment.[8] Clinical videos that enhance the learning experience can be created by the faculty. However, no virtual sessions can duplicate the close experience with patients.[9]

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 global epidemic, intensive studies have been carried out to develop COVID-19 vaccines.[10] In November 2020, several pharmaceutical companies reported early results of COVID-19 vaccine trials that showed efficacy for most participants.[11] Vaccine acceptance and hesitancy among health-care providers are always an important consideration to explore.[12] Health-care providers are seen as reliable individuals who can share evidence-based information about vaccines with their patients and the public. Health-care providers around the world were among the first group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021.[11] Likewise in Turkey, dentists and intern dentistry students were given priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.[13]

The current survey aimed to evaluate the opinion of students about online education. In addition, it aimed to determine the COVID-19 vaccine status of the students and whether they contracted the disease.


  Materials and Methods Top


Study design

This cross-sectional study was conducted in March 2022 with the use of a web-based survey. The study was approved by the Ethical Committee of Pamukkale University, Denizli, Turkey (Date: March 15, 2022 Number: 184613). All the participants provided informed consent for the participation in the study. All procedures performed in the study were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards given in 1964 Declaration of Helsinki, as revised in 2013.

Study size

The number of subjects needed for this study was calculated using NCSS software (Number Cruncher Statistical Systems, Kaysville, UT, USA) which determined that at least 266 people were required to achieve more than 90% power for a δ value of 1.0 (α = 0.05).

Study setting

An electronic questionnaire was prepared consisting of 16 questions (survey.com). The survey questions were inspired by different studies and prepared from scratch as a new questionnaire.[6],[7],[9],[11],[12] The survey consisted of questions created to understand the students' views on online education during the COVID-19 period. Furthermore, there were questions about the students' COVID-19 infection and COVID-19 vaccine experiences [Table 1]. A web link was sent to the last grade students of dentistry in Turkey who accepted the questionnaire call, through their lecturers from the WhatsApp application (WhatsApp Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA). The survey remained open for 15 days. Data collected were stored in a secure database only accessible to the researchers.
Table 1: Survey questions and statistical data of the answers

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Participants

Dental education in Turkey lasts for 5 years and fourth-fifth grade students receive clinical practice training by treating patients. A total of 281 fifth-grade students from different universities in Turkey participated in the survey. Students other than fifth-grade students were excluded. In order to increase participation in the study, announcements were repeated several times during the data collection period.

Statistical methods

Statistical analyses were performed using IBM SPSS software (SPSS version 23.0; SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Descriptive analyses were used in the statistical analysis of the data and differences between the genders are analyzed with Mann–Whitney U-test at a significance level of P ≤ 0.05.


  Results Top


In the study, of the 281 fifth-grade students, 176 (62.63%) were female, 105 (37.36%) were male. The number of those who want to get specialization education is statistically higher among female students than male students (P = 0.000). The number of students who regret choosing the dentistry profession is statistically higher among female students than male students (P = 0.019). No statistically significant relationship was found between gender and students who thought that theoretical (P = 0.389) and practical education (P = 0.853) were negatively affected. There is no statistically significant relationship between being infected with COVID-19 (P = 0.538) and being vaccinated against COVID-19 (P = 0.345) and gender. Feeling competent in the clinical practice of pediatric dentistry and gender has no significant relationship (P = 0.236). The percentage of students who had at least 1 dose of vaccine was 98.58%. [Table 1] shows all survey questions, the answer choices, the numbers/percentages of the answers given by the students and statistically significant relationships.


  Discussion Top


Research on perception of dentistry students towards online education were mostly negative in literature.[14],[15] Ertürk Avunduk and Delikan[16] reported a very low percentage (18.1%) of dentistry students who were satisfied with online education. In the study of Abbasi et al.,[15] most of the students preferred face-to-face education to online education. Similarly, in our study, 68.32% of the students perceived that COVID 19 affected their theoretical education in Dentistry. The main issue with online education in dentistry was practical training which was raised by many articles.[17],[18],[19] In a study, students thought that no virtual session could replicate the real experience with patients.[16] Similarly, in our study, 83.27% of the students thought that COVID-19 negatively affected their clinical education.

Surveys exist in the literature in which students have positive thoughts toward online lessons, especially theoretical lessons.[20],[21] A Taiwan study showed there was no significant difference in student performance between online and face-to-face lessons overall.[22] Similarly Coughlan et al.[7] reported students' high satisfaction (61%) with the online lessons. According to our results, students generally had negative views toward online lessons, however, we also have findings which are parallel to these studies in some respects. For instance, only 37.72% of the students thought that their lecturers in online lessons were not as efficient as they are in face-to-face lessons. Furthermore, only 26.33% of the students ticked the answer option of “I do not think online exams can adequately measure our success in the lessons.” The reason for this result may be that students can pass online examinations more easily than face-to-face examinations.

The effects of COVID-19 on education will also have implications for careers of students in various ways.[6] In a study, 11.2% of the students agreed that COVID-19 affected their plans for choosing a career in the future.[23] In line with this finding, in our study, 35.23% of the students stated, they did not feel sufficient to start their Career in Dentistry. Another important issue that the COVID-19 virus may affect in dental education is the issue of stress and psychological effects on students and lecturers. A recent American study found dental students are undergoing increased stress levels, and they felt that this COVID-19 outbreak affected clinical education.[24] In a study, females (80.5%) were significantly more affected psychologically by COVID-19 than males (68.5%).[25] In our study results, it was observed that 5th grade female students who chose the dentistry profession had a statistically significant regret due to COVID-19 pandemic, compared to male students.

In our study, there were 1.42% of students who had never been vaccinated; the rate of being vaccinated was quite high. The rates of anti-vaccination in the article findings of Kelekar et al.[12] and Riad et al.[26] were higher than the rate of those who were not vaccinated in our study. There may be two reasons for this. The first reason is that the period when Kelekar et al.[12] and Riad et al.[26] carried out these studies was a period when the use of COVID-19 vaccines was very recently started, therefore people might have had concerns about “vaccine side effects.” As the time progressed and the results of Vaccines were announced, students might have developed confidence over the vaccine. Moreover, this study was conducted among the 5th grade student, who were involved directly to the patient everyday. This attributed to the higher percentage of vaccine takers in our study. These students may have felt the need to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus more than junior students students who do not treat patients.

Among the population aged 18 and over in Turkey; the rate of those who had at least 1 dose of vaccine was 93.13%; 2 doses of vaccine was 85.41%; and 3 doses of vaccine was 44.64%.[27] The reason why the vaccination rates in our study were quite higher than Turkey's average, might be that intern students thought they were in the risk group cause they are health-care professionals treating patients. In our study findings, of the students vaccinated against COVID-19, 11.55% received only Sinovac vaccine, 8.66% received only Biontech vaccine, and 79.78% received Sinovac and Biontech vaccines.[27] There were no students who have had the Türkovac vaccine. The reason for this situation may be that the Türkovac vaccine has been introduced very recently and the number of cases/deaths due to COVID-19 in our country has decreased in recent months.

Our study has some limitations. In the survey questions, there was no question about which university/city the student was studying in. Questions about the dentistry specialties were asked only for pediatric dental education. Survey participants were only senior dentistry students.


  Conclusion Top


Since the 1st day of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, dental education has been shaken worldwide. Although there were inexperience and disruptions in online education in the first month of the pandemic, serious transformations were experienced in this education field at the end of the 2 years. This pandemic has forced Dental lecturers and students worldwide to change technologically. In this process, the importance and benefit of COVID-19 vaccines which are one of our most important weapons in the fight against the pandemic has been understood. The high rate of vaccination of students observed in this study is a pleasing result. However, in the study, it was seen that the students were mostly not satisfied with the online education.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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