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J Dent Educ. 2002 Jan;66(1):75-81.

Effect of perceived stress on student performance in dental school.

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South Australian Dental Service.


A commonly held view is that chronic stress has an adverse affect on academic performance. Because dental students typically report high levels of stress, they may be at particular risk. This research examined the relationship between perceived stress and academic performance in 202 dental students enrolled in an Australian dental school. In this study, four key stress factors labelled "self-efficacy beliefs," "faculty and administration," "workload," and "performance pressure" previously identified by our group from principal components analysis of the Dental Environment Stress (DES) questionnaire, together with gender, ethnicity, and stage of course, were entered as independent variables into multiple regression analyses. Three measures of academic performance (basic and applied science knowledge, clinical competency, and contextual understanding) were entered as dependent variables. Regression analysis revealed little support for the assumption that chronic stress predicted academic performance. The only finding of note was that students reporting higher levels of stress on the DES factor "faculty and administration" tended to show lower grades for clinical competency and contextual understanding. In summary, although the DES factor solution used in the present study remains to be validated, we found little support for an association between increased DES factor stress scores and reduced academic performance in dental students.

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