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Open AccessArticle

Medical Studies during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Impact of Digital Learning on Medical Students’ Burnout and Mental Health

Medical School, University of Cyprus, 2029 Nicosia, Cyprus
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work and share first authorship.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(1), 349; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010349
Received: 22 December 2020 / Revised: 31 December 2020 / Accepted: 4 January 2021 / Published: 5 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Burnout Syndrome and Prevention)
Objectives: The aim of this ecological study was to investigate what the impact of digital learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic was on the burnout and overall mental health (MH) of medical students. Background: During the unprecedented era of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of countries worldwide adopted very strong measures. Universities closed their doors, and education continued through digital learning lectures. Methods: An anonymous questionnaire was administered to all 189 eligible candidates before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health was assessed via the MH domain of the 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and burnout with the Maslach Burnout Inventory—Student Survey (MBI-SS). Results: The overall response rate was 81.5%. The overall burnout prevalence did not differ significantly between the two periods (pre-COVID-19 18.1% vs. COVID-19 18.2%). However, the burnout prevalence dropped significantly in year 4 (pre-COVID-19 40.7% vs. COVID-19 16.7%, p = 0.011), whereas it increased significantly in year 6 (pre-COVID-19 27.6% vs. COVID-19 50%, p = 0.01). When looking at each MBI-SS dimension separately, we found that emotional exhaustion decreased significantly in year 4 but increased in year 6, and cynicism increased in all years. The overall MH deteriorated significantly between the two periods (pre-COVID-19 58.8 ± 21.6 vs. COVID-19 48.3 ± 23, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Digital learning in medical studies carries significant risks. Not only does the MH deteriorate, but cynicism levels also increase. Emotional exhaustion was found to increase particularly in final year students, who struggle with the lack of clinical experience just before they start working as qualified junior doctors. View Full-Text
Keywords: burnout; pandemic; COVID-19; medical studies; cynicism burnout; pandemic; COVID-19; medical studies; cynicism
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zis, P.; Artemiadis, A.; Bargiotas, P.; Nteveros, A.; Hadjigeorgiou, G.M. Medical Studies during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Impact of Digital Learning on Medical Students’ Burnout and Mental Health. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 349. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010349

AMA Style

Zis P, Artemiadis A, Bargiotas P, Nteveros A, Hadjigeorgiou GM. Medical Studies during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Impact of Digital Learning on Medical Students’ Burnout and Mental Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(1):349. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010349

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zis, Panagiotis; Artemiadis, Artemios; Bargiotas, Panagiotis; Nteveros, Antonios; Hadjigeorgiou, Georgios M. 2021. "Medical Studies during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Impact of Digital Learning on Medical Students’ Burnout and Mental Health" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, no. 1: 349. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010349

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