OBJECTIVE To compare the influence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the student reported outcomes among dental students reading/studying different courses offered in the only dental school in Malta . MATERIALS AND
METHODS An anonymous questionnaire consisting of 13 closed-ended and open-ended questions was sent to all students (n = 97) at the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the University of Malta . Emergent themes from open-ended questions were identified and tallied . Since data were classified as categorical ranks, nonparametric tests were used to compare variables among the different courses, years of study, preclinical/clinical students, and gender categories .
RESULTS Dental technology students were significantly less stressed about contracting COVID-19 (P = 0.005) and regarding lack of preparation due to inability to physically go to the library (P = 0.019). Female students reported significantly more anxiety for the following factors: `` feeling anxious all the time"( P = 0.033),``worried about contracting COVID-19'"( P = 0.012),``worried that a family member may contract COVID-19'"( P = 0.048),``more anxious about exams this year because of the challenges we are facing"( P = 0.029), and``concern about losing manual dexterity skills"( P = 0.038). Qualitative data gathered show considerable stress reported by students regarding changes in examination processes and formats and lack of timely communication .
CONCLUSION Students were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and this caused fear of losing their manual dexterity skills, anxiety related to its consequences on their long-term plans, and anxiety related to the examinations . Dental schools in turn should adapt rapidly and customize changes that are specific to the individual student cohort and their stage of training.