The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an emergingcontagious respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. Itwas first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, China . Emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19can occur anywhere in the world. By being part of the health careteam, pharmacists can be exposed to the risk of infection . Here, we present the results of aquestionnaire study about the knowledge, attitudes and practices ofEgyptian senior pharmacy students towards the COVD-19 disease.
In the present study, one of the most significant findings wasthat the highest main source of COVID-19 information among seniorstudents was social media, television and published articles. Theresults strongly support similar findings in which the main sourceof Middle East respiratory Syndrome (MERS) information was reportedto be the internet and social media .This clearly indicates that senior pharmacy students are relyingconsistently on the internet, social media and online informationas the principal ways to obtain information, compared with friendsand other resources. The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Populationand the World Health Organization (WHO) have provided clusters withCOVID-19 information through their websites and are recommendingeveryone to be aware of updates relating to knowledge aboutCOVID-19 [3, 4].Similarly, a previous study reported that internet was the mainsource of information about MERS-CoV .Therefore, it is feasible to suggest that researches shouldurgently find ways to utilize the Internet to promote health,especially in emerging infectious diseases and pandemics. Atpresent, the quality of the information available on the Internetis insufficient and needs to be revised. Furthermore, a very smallpercentage of participants reported that healthcare professionals,either physicians or pharmacists, were their primary source ofinformation. This scenario illustrates the lack of healthcare teamengagement in increasing the public awareness regarding differentaspects of COVID-19.
The present study showed a significant relation existing betweenthe knowledge score and published articles as source of information(P < 0.05). That may be due to the role played by the WHO andthe Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population in providing clusterwith COVID-19 information through their websites. Therefore, theseorganizations recommend everyone to be aware of updates aboutCOVID-19.
As mentioned earlier, 238 senior pharmacy students participatedin the present study. The overall mean knowledge scored amongstudents was 83% (10 ± 1.2). Most of the students possessed a goodCOVID-19 knowledge level (72.5% of the students), possibly owing tothe fact that the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP)and the World Health Organization (WHO) are providing a significant amount of COVID-19 information through theirwebsites [3, 4].The present study results showed that 98% of participants wereknowledgeable about the main clinical symptoms of COVID-19. Inaddition, the same percentage of students knew that older personsand persons with pre-existing medical conditions were more liableto develop serious illness with COVID-19 than others. Thesefindings confirm observations from previous studies, which reportedthat the majority of participants believed that the disease is moredangerous for the elderly and for those suffering from chronicdiseases [21, 22].
The students were least knowledgeable towards the question ofcoagulation dysfunction being one of the major death causes inpatients with severe COVID-19. Suitable remedial actions should betaken since vascular, venous thromboembolism and arterialthrombosis risks have been documented in severe and critically illCOVID-19 patients [23, 24]. A perceived lack of information regardingsome of the COVID-19 clinical presentation or preventive measureshighlights the requirement for the inclusion of more training,seminars in their courses. This raises concerns regarding theability of newly-graduated pharmacists to deal with the COVID-19pandemic disease, or any other potential similar epidemic events.Also, the students were least knowledgeable about when to wearmasks. Masks and sanitizing products use has evolved since thebeginning of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in their rapiddepletion. Lack of appropriate security measures represents a majorconcern for health workers. This is a cause of concern in a highlypopulated country such as Egypt, where the public may experienceanxiety and even panic feelings, because basic protection measuresare unavailable .
Knowledge is a prerequisite for establishing positive attitudesand promoting positive behaviors. Therefore, it makes sense toinvest in individuals’ cognition towards the infection. Regardingthe senior students’ attitude towards COVID-19, in the presentstudy 72% of them agreed that COVID-19 will be successfullycontrolled and 87% were confident that health care teams andscientists can win the fight against the coronavirus.Interestingly, it was found that a greater students’ knowledgerelates to more confidence in COVID-19 becoming successfullycontrolled (OR = 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03-4.72).
Correlation between the students’ attitude and practiceindicates that their positive attitude is affecting their actiontowards COVID-19. This present study results showed that 87% ofparticipants did not go to any crowded place, 76% of the studentsagreed that patients should disclose their exposure to COVID-19 and73% of the students kept the social distance of at least 2 metersfrom other people. However, the students showed bad practice whenusing masks as a protective measure (approximately 50%). That wasdirectly related to their lower level of knowledge towards theimportance of wearing masks (P < 0.05). That is supported byfindings from a previous study, which reported that only about 35%of the participants were willing to wear face masks .
Interestingly, it was reported that females preferred not to goto any crowded place more than male students (OR = 3.6, 95%confidence interval [CI]: 1.5-8.6). In addition, females preferredto keep the social distance more than male students (OR = 2.3, 95%confidence interval [CI]: 1.2- 4.4). Moreover, students who live inother governorates kept social distance and agreed that patientsshould disclose their exposure to COVID-19 rather than the studentswho live in the capital (OR = 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI]:0.9-3.2).
It is noteworthy that a significant association existed betweenthe practice of wearing masks when leaving home and usingtelevision as source of information (P < 0.05). Likewise, anassociation existed between the practice of keeping the socialdistance at least 2 meters from other people and utilizingphysicians as a source of information (P < 0.05). Thisencourages the public to avoid public meetings, including sports,ceremonies, meetings and school classes, in order to prevent aglobal transmission of coronavirus infection . However, many people ignore the importance ofmaintaining social distance because of attitudinal issues.