Study shows pandemic increased depression and anxiety in dental health care workers

The first known US study assesses the mental health of practicing dentists and dental hygienists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

mental dental healthThis is the first known US study evaluating the mental health of practicing dentists and dental hygienists during the COVID-19 pandemic.Posted in Journal of the American Dental Association Involve faculty members from The University of Alabama at Birmingham Faculty of Dentistry It found that dental healthcare providers reported symptoms of anxiety and depression during peak periods of public transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, titled “The Mental Health of Dental Health Care Workers in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is the first known US study to assess the mental health of practicing dentists and dental hygienists during the pandemic.

During the one-year study between June 2021 and June 2022, 17.7 percent of health care workers reported symptoms of anxiety, 10.7 percent reported symptoms of depression, and 8.3 percent reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. Dental hygienists reported higher rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms than dentists at each time point surveyed.

“This project was part of a larger assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on dental healthcare providers during the height of the epidemic,” said lead author Maria (Mia) L. and manager Advanced education in periodontal disease. “This was important, particularly early in the pandemic, because we were very concerned about burnout among DHCPs, and we wanted to assess the impact of vaccination and COVID-19 infection rates on the mental health of these providers. As they are providers, the mental and physical wellness of providers Our dental health is critical to being able to provide optimal care to patients and communities.”

Inside Mary Mia Geisinger 5Maria (Mia) L. Geisinger, DDS, is a professor in the UAB School of Dentistry and director of advanced education in periodontal disease. Photography: Lexi KonGeisinger and her colleagues surveyed 8,902 dental health professionals per month through an anonymous web-based survey. They found that anxiety symptoms peaked in November 2020 and depressive symptoms peaked in December 2020 for both dentists and dental hygienists. In November 2020, 17 percent of dentists and 28 percent of dental hygienists reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety. That number dropped to about 12 percent for both professions in May 2021. In December 2020, 10 percent of dentists and 17 percent of dental hygienists reported symptoms of depression. That percentage dropped to about 8% for both occupations in May 2021.

This study is also the first to examine the relationship between vaccine delivery and mental health. The researchers found that participants’ overall anxiety symptoms decreased after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, with approximately 20.6 percent of unvaccinated dental health workers who intended to be vaccinated experiencing anxiety compared to 14.1 percent of those fully vaccinated.

“Through our research, we wanted to better understand the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of home health care workers and work to support all members of the dental profession,” Geisinger said. “By focusing on mental health through training programs and developing supportive infrastructure to assist DHCW workers who may be facing mental health challenges, we can better support our colleagues and their ability to care for patients.”

Read the full study over here.