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Eur J Dent Educ. 2005 May;9(2):78-84.

Stress, burnout and health in the clinical period of dental education.

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Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine, Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany.


The study examined the extent of stress, burnout and health problems experienced by fourth and fifth year dental students from the three universities of Dresden, Freiburg and Bern. The objectives of the study were to: (i) identify frequent sources of stress and to report the prevalence rates of burnout and health problems in dental students, (ii) determine the rate of students suffering from severe burnout symptoms and (iii) identify stress factors related to the burnout symptoms of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. A total of 161 dental students from Dresden, Freiburg and Bern participated in the study. They completed the Psychosocial Stress Inventory, the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Health Survey Questionnaire. Frequent sources of stress were limitation of leisure time, examination anxiety and the transition stress that was related to the adaptation to the demands of the clinical phase of dental education. Few differences existed between the students of the fourth and the fifth study year. Study-related stress was lowest in Bern and considerably higher in Dresden. Differences of mean levels of burnout symptoms were found only for the burnout dimension of emotional exhaustion. Students from Dresden and Freiburg were more emotionally exhausted than students from Bern, students from Dresden also reported more health problems than students from Bern or Freiburg. Ten per cent of the dental students suffered from severe emotional exhaustion, 17% complained about a severe lack of accomplishment and 28% reported severe depersonalization symptoms. Forty-four per cent of the variance of emotional exhaustion was explained by study-related factors such as lack of leisure time, examination anxiety and transition stress. The only predictor of depersonalization was a lack of social integration, accounting for 3% of the variance. A lack of social integration may be an indicator of low social competence which may cause difficulties in dealing with patients adequately and therefore result in depersonalization. The results indicate a need to identify the group of students who may have insufficient social skills for dealing adequately with the patients, and to train them accordingly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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