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Original Papers

Psychological impact and coping strategies of medical students during university closure due to COVID-19 in a state university in Sri Lanka

Authors:

Y. M. Maheshi Rohanachandra ,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About Y. M.
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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P. S. Alles,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About P. S.
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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L. Amarakoon,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About L.
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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S. Prathapan

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About S.
Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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Abstract

Introduction: Medical students are an especially vulnerable group to develop mental health problems due to high academic pressure, competitive training and financial restraints. Loss of routine, disengagement from peers and adapting to distant learning during the pandemic may worsen psychological distress in medical students. Aims: We aimed to identify the psychological impact and coping strategies of medical students during the pandemic. Methods: The study instruments were emailed as a Google form among all medical students in the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. A specifically designed questionnaire was used to gather the sociodemograpgic details and assess coping skills. Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) was used to measure psychological impact. Results: 527 students responded to the questionnaire. The main worry among the students was upcoming exams (74.4%). Depressive symptoms were present in 40.8%, anxiety in 34% and high levels of stress were seen in 24.7%. Depression (p<0.01), anxiety (p<0.05) and stress (p<0.01) were significantly higher in students with a past history of psychiatric disorders. The main coping strategy of the participants was engaging more with family (73.4%). Half of the students (50.7%, n=267) reported to participate in all distant teaching sessions. Majority (60.2%, n=317) accessed online teaching sessions through their smartphones. Help seeking behaviour among students were poor as only 40.5% (n=214) of students provided their contact details and consented to be contacted by the investigators to provide support Conclusion: Given the high levels of psychological distress, supportive strategies should be designed to minimize the psychological impact in this vulnerable group.
How to Cite: Rohanachandra, Y.M.M., Alles, P.S., Amarakoon, L. and Prathapan, S., 2021. Psychological impact and coping strategies of medical students during university closure due to COVID-19 in a state university in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry, 12(2), pp.4–9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v12i2.8287
Published on 31 Dec 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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