Journal of Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2019  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 25--30

Professional environmental stress among dental and engineering students in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, Central India: A comparative cross-sectional study


Ramakrishna Chevvuri1, N Naveen2, GY Yunus2, Ram Tiwari2, Hunny Sharma3, Swati Verma2,  
1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Government Dental College, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Rungta College of Dental Science and Research, Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, India
3 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Triveni Institute of Dental Sciences, Hospital and Research Centre, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ramakrishna Chevvuri
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Government Dental College, Raipur - 492 001, Chhattisgarh
India

Abstract

Background: Students undertaking professional courses such as medical, dental, and engineering are subjected to higher stress resulting in psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. This may be attributed to various factors such as academic, social events, health-related, and personal issues. Aim: This study aims to assess and compare professional environmental stress between dental and engineering students in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. Methodology: A Modified Dental Environmental Stress Survey Questionnaire comprising 24 questions was pretested and administered among 316 students (115 dental and 201 engineering) to compare the professional environmental stress across stressor domains such as academic performance, faculty relations, personal issues, and professional identity. Descriptive statistics and independent sample t-test were applied using IBM Corporation SPSS version 23 program (New York, USA). P ≤ 0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Results: Final year dental students reported higher stress than third year students with mean scores 34.91 ± 4.55 and 32.34 ± 5.36, respectively (P < 0.01). Final year engineering students experienced higher stress than third year students with mean scores 31.84 ± 4.29 and 29.86 ± 4.14, respectively (P < 0.01). Dental students reported higher stress than engineering students with mean scores 33.66 ± 5.10 and 30.78 ± 4.31, respectively (P < 0.01). Conclusion: This study gives the glimpse of factors creating stressful environment among the two science fields, the elimination of which will result in higher productivity and student-friendly environment for higher studies. The results were indicating that the intervention is necessary for psychological well-being of the students. Henceforth effective means of reducing stress should be explored together with determining emphatic methods of coping with the tensions.



How to cite this article:
Chevvuri R, Naveen N, Yunus G Y, Tiwari R, Sharma H, Verma S. Professional environmental stress among dental and engineering students in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, Central India: A comparative cross-sectional study.J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2019;17:25-30


How to cite this URL:
Chevvuri R, Naveen N, Yunus G Y, Tiwari R, Sharma H, Verma S. Professional environmental stress among dental and engineering students in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, Central India: A comparative cross-sectional study. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Jul 21 ];17:25-30
Available from: http://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2019/17/1/25/254322


Full Text

 Introduction



Securing admission in professional courses such as medical, dental, engineering, and management is one of the most precious and extremely significant achievements in the life of students those who are keen in acquiring higher knowledge and enthusiastic to serve the community with responsibility and respect.[1],[2],[3] However, in today's competitive environment, students of various disciplines face great stress which may be due to extensive studies, examinations, busy schedules, peer contest, or even teachers' and/or parents' expectations.[4],[5],[6]

Stress has reciprocating action i.e., on one hand it may either compel the students to act in positive direction while on the other hand may cause adverse effects on students' general health and well-being.[7],[8] Stress is caused by external pressure, demands, and anxiety arising from problematic environment acting on students' mental and physical state.[9] Stress not only causes physical and mental ill effects such as obesity, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, suppressed immunity, tension headache, and apprehension but also leads to social undesirable effects such as absenteeism from colleges, poor academic results, and unsatisfactory quality in work.[10],[11],[12],[13] In late stages, it may even cause deviation from ethics, depression, and substance abuse which might be very difficult to be detected by professional colleagues and family members.[12],[14],[15] Hence study of stress among students of various disciplines had become one of the most favorite areas for researchers in recent years.

Several studies conducted throughout the world assessing the professional environmental stress pertaining to academic performance, faculty relations, personal issues, and professional identity have revealed that majority of students experience more stress during their undergraduate program.[16],[17],[18],[19] Dental and engineering professions which are considered one of the noble professions in the society are also linked with complex stressful environment.[1] Dental students who not only expected to compete and gain theoretical knowledge and clinical skills but are also expected to gain trust and respect from colleagues and society which mainly depends on interpersonal skills.[19],[20] Engineering students are exposed to various challenging and demanding influences as they are having practical schedules as well as increased course burden which requires long hours of study. Moreover, preparing for licentiate/qualifying examinations toward career/job prospects may lead to very hectic routine in the later years of the course. Apart from difficult curriculum assignments, frequent class tests, lack of time management, training themselves competent for the job market and campus placement create additional burden on students.[21]

Studies of this kind may play an essential role for exploring stressful domains of the students thereby facilitating development of student-friendly environment for more competitive and productive platform with minimal stress. Although many studies have been conducted throughout the world focusing on stress among medical, dental, and engineering students individually, studies that compared the stress among dental and engineering students are scarce and none reported in central India to our best knowledge. Therefore, this study was carried out with an aim to compare professional environmental stress among students of dental and engineering institutions in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh.

 Methodology



A cross-sectional study was conducted among students in one dental and two engineering colleges in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. The study was carried out in August and September 2017. Approval of the study was granted from the Institutional Ethical Committee (IEC) through letter number (RCDSR/IEC/MDS/2017/S4). Permission to conduct the study was obtained from respective college authorities before the commencement of the study. Informed consent was obtained from the participants after explaining the nature and purpose of the study and assuring them that confidentiality and anonymity would be maintained.

Students who were absent on the day of data collection and those who did not provide consent for participation were excluded. The study included a convenient sample of third and final year students as they experience both theoretical and practical training sessions as compared to first and second year students who are not exposed to practical training sessions. Thus making the final sample size of 316 students (115 dental students and 201 engineering students).

A modified Garbee's dental environmental stress survey (1980) questionnaire was used in the study.[22] The questionnaire was constructed to contain 24 questions that were categorized into four domains: (1) academic performance, (2) faculty relations, (3) personal issues, and (4) professional identity. The questionnaire consisted of items related to these domains and three options were provided to respond (not stressful, less stressful and more stressful). Questionnaire was pretested for its validity by the subject experts of public health dentistry, academic staff of engineering college, and language experts for its applicability in respective streams of education. Modifications related to grammatical corrections were made according to the suggestions. Few questions were eliminated which were not relevant for one or both the stream students. The pretesting of questionnaire was done among 30 students who were not a part of main study, and internal consistency was found to be good (Cronbach's alpha = 0.85). The questionnaire was administered to the students during their leisure hours with prior planning from college authorities without hampering their routine activities. Since all the students filled the questionnaire in the presence of researchers and willingly agreed to participate in the study, the response rate was 100%.

Collected data were arranged in Microsoft excel spreadsheet 2013 and analyzed by the IBM Corporation SPSS version 23 program (New York, NY, USA). Descriptive statistics was calculated; mean and standard deviations were recorded. The responses of the questions in each domain were summed up domainwise and made into a separate variable. The data followed normal distribution as assessed by Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. The stressor domains were compared between dental and engineering students using Student's t-test. P ≤ 0.05 was considered as statistically significant.

 Results



The mean age of dental and engineering participants were found to be 21.83 ± 1.04 and 20.25 ± 0.87 respectively. By genderwise comparison among the study participants, it was found that dental field is predominated by females constituting 87% of total study participants while males being only 13%. Engineering field exhibited almost equal number of gender participants with 51.2% being male and 48.8% being females. The summary of the questionnaire item responses and percentage distributions are included in graphs [Table 1] and [Graph 1], [Graph 2].{Table 1}[INLINE:1][INLINE:2]

Stress related to academic performance was reported to be higher in females of both the profession as compared to males (P = 0.102 and P = 0.854, respectively). Female engineering students were experiencing higher stress than males in domains of faculty relations and professional identity (P = 0.324 and 0.667), respectively. Contrary to this, male dental students reported higher stress than females in these two domains (P = 0.331 and 0.834) [Table 2] and [Table 3].{Table 2}{Table 3}

Academic yearwise comparison revealed that in both the streams, final year students reported higher stress than third year students (P < 0.01). Final year students in both dental and engineering courses had significantly higher stress than third year students in the domain of academic performance (P < 0.01). Final year engineering students were experiencing more stress than third year students in domains of faculty relations and professional identity (P = 0.170 and 0.847) respectively. Contrarily, third year engineering students reported more stress in case of personal issues domain (P = 0.020). In dental stream, final year students reported higher stress than third year students in domains of faculty relations and personal issues whereas third year students reported higher stress in the domain of professional identity (P = 0.792) [Table 3].

This study revealed that dental students are under significantly higher stress as compared to engineering students in domains of academic performance and personal issues (P < 0.01). In professional identity domain, dental students reported almost similar stress to engineering stream (P = 0.932) [Table 4].{Table 4}

 Discussion



Professional education that is aimed to build a bright career often create a stressful environment which not only results in negative impact on academic performance but also have devastating results on physical and psychological well-being of the students in due course of time.[7],[9],[10]

Stress being a double-edged sword can either stimulate or motivate the students to perform well or deprive the students from achievement of targets and goals. Stress in small amount acts as positive reinforcement and can help being more productive. However, persistently higher stress can result in significant mental and physical problems.[20],[23],[24]

The findings of this study showed that students making career in dental stream perceived greater stress than engineering students in domains of academic performance, faculty relations, and personal issues. This is in agreement with the study by Murphy et al. wherein dental students reported comparatively high stress than medical students.[25] The perceived stress is similar in professional identity domain for students of both courses.

Higher stress in the domain of academic performance could be due to elaborative syllabus, practical training, assignments, and examinations. We observed that dental students perceived significantly higher stress as compared to engineering students which is mainly related to time scheduling for studies, extensive practical training, and the highly strenuous and technique sensitive nature of work. The results are also in accordance with a study done by Waghachavare et al.[21] Studies conducted by Chenganakkattil et al. and Khan et al. also reported less stress among engineering students compared to medical students whereas Behere et al. reported equal level of stress among engineering and medical students.[26],[27],[28]

In the domain of personal issues, dental students perceived significantly more stress as compared to engineering students (P = 0.001). Higher stress in dental students could be due to interaction with patients, concern about their treatment, and appointment schedules. Increased workload, lack of time for relaxation, and health issues may also contribute along with financial problems in some students due to higher fee structure in dentistry. Contrarily, Waghachavare et al. reported that higher percentage of engineering students perceived stress regarding health-related and social issues.[21] As the study tools used were different in different studies, these rates are not necessarily comparable at all point in the same direction.

Dental students reported relatively less and similar stress as that of engineering students in the area of professional identity; the reason could be their ability to set up own clinical practice without being much concerned about uncertainty about future job prospects. Murphy et al. also stated less stress among dental students in the domain of professional identity.[25]

Faculty relations was one more important stressor domain for students of both the courses; this might be mainly due to inconsistent feedback from faculty members and perceptions of receiving unjustified criticism on practical/clinical and theoretical exercises.

No significant difference was found in the stress among male and female students in the present study which is similar to studies done by Shah et al., Supe, and Amr et al. whereas a study done in Pakistan by Shah M et al. reported significantly higher stress among female students.[29],[30],[31],[32]

The results of our study are in agreement with the study of Mane Abhay et al. which revealed that dental students reported more stress than students of engineering and other professional courses.[33] Final year dental and engineering students reported significantly higher stress than third year students which is in line with a study done by Tangade et al. that presented higher stress among final year dental students. Contrarily, Murphy et al. found higher stress among third year Dental students.[25],[34] The difference may be conferred to variations in professional environmental conditions in respective studies.

As the current study was limited to one dental and two engineering colleges only, it is not known whether trends found reflect, local attitudes are more widespread. Henceforth generalizability of the results has to be cautiously evaluated. Nonexploration of stress levels among students is also a limitation of this study.

 Conclusion and Recommendations



Compared to students of engineering, students perusing dental education perceived significantly higher stress in domains such as academic performance and personal issues but were relatively less stressed about their professional identity in future. Senior students experienced higher stress than juniors, and with respect to gender, no significant difference was found.

It is necessary to continue to examine the causes and consequences of stress among professional students. Various means of reducing stress should be explored together with determining effective methods of coping with the tensions. It is recommended to open the counseling cell so that the students can solicit assistance from professional counselors. Moreover, the students should seek supportive guidance from the staff members and indulge in extracurricular activities to avert the stress. Further research focusing on a great number of institutions involving majority students is suggested.

Acknowledgment

We acknowledge all the students and authorities of the respective colleges for their patience and kind support.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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