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J Dent Educ. 2002 Sep;66(9):1021-30.

Sources of stress and psychological disturbance among dental students in the West Indies.

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School of Dentistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.


The aim of this study was to investigate sources of stress and psychological disturbance in dental students across the five years of undergraduate study at a dental school in Trinidad. Eighty-three percent of students completed a modified version of the Dental Environment Stress questionnaire (DES) and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). On a scale ranging from 0 (not stressful) to 5 (highly stressful), overall mean DES scores for each of the five years of study were 1.58, 1.83, 2.65, 2.39, and 2.61 respectively, suggesting that levels of stress increase over the five years with a noticeable spike at the transition between the preclinical and clinical phases. Significant differences were found between specific stressors across the five years of study. Seven specific stressors and the stressor domains of Academic work and Clinical factors were more stressful for female students (t-test p < 0.05). The Global Severity Index of the BSI indicated that 54.8 percent of males and 44.2 percent of females were in the clinical range indicating significant psychological disturbance. Psychological disturbance was significantly associated with stress levels for male students (Spearmans rank correlation r = 0.56; p < 0.001), but not generally for female students. Further development is needed of dental educational programs that enhance students' psychosocial well-being.

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