Reopening of Universities for on-campus teaching in COVID- 19 Pandemic: Status of Generalized Anxiety in medical students
The aim is to assess the status of generalized anxiety levels in medical students across the country about resuming on-campus academic activities during the ongoing COVID- 19 Pandemic. The calculated sample size was 580. All undergraduate students of Pakistan Medical Council (PMC) recognized medical and dental colleges of Pakistan were included in the study. Medical/dental students who have completed their academic years at the institutions and/or appearing in the final professional exam were excluded, as they would not be returning to their respective institutions for academic activities. A convenient sampling technique was applied to select the students from both private and public medical and dental colleges of Pakistan. Medical students were approached through social media using an online data collection instrument. Data was collected from a sample of 585 across the country. The data collection instrument included: a standardized and validated Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaire along with a few socio-demographic questions. A few questions related to the current Pandemic, based on a literature search, were also added to the online survey questionnaire. These questions included information about their experience of ever being suspected or diagnosed to have COVID 19 infection and about their willingness to commit to precautionary measures while on campus. The total number of questions in the form was twelve, in addition to the basic biodata. The average time to complete the questionnaire was estimated to be 3-5 minutes. The approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Shalamar Medical and Dental College was sought (IRB number). A survey designed on Google Forms was shared with students with an online consent document that included a summary of the purpose of the study, an invitation to the student to participate, and explicit consent of the student. The data was anonymous as no personal or institutional information was collected and the data was kept confidential in the password-protected computers of the investigators. Results showed that 41% of the respondents showed anxiety when assessed on the GAD-7 questionnaire; 67% of students were afraid of getting infected while on campus; 49% preferred online education in present situation; significant associations were found between factors and anxiety scores and respondents’ age. Regression analysis revealed that female students were 1.47 times more anxious and stressed than male students regarding the reopening of universities and continuation of physical education. The impact on mental health of students requires special attention as the anxiety of being on-campus during the pandemic is prevalent.