COVID-19 has had a great impact on the life of people since the first case was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.1 Because of its high infection rate and severe symptoms, many cities were locked down to limit the spreading. Besides using protective measures to minimize the number of infected people, attention was paid to the mental health conditions of both healthcare workers (HCWs) and the general public.2–5 A comparison between mental status of HCWs and that of the general public in China during the outbreak of COVID-19 suggested that, for the general public, COVID-19 related knowledge, age, and the time spent on COVID-19 information were significantly associated with general anxiety disorders.6 However, another study asserted that the knowledge of COVID-19 helped people in China to keep positive attitudes.7 As for HCWs, the likelihood of them suffering from anxiety and depression disorders was higher than that of the general public during the outbreak.3,6 Despite the common ways of receiving information, medical professionals acquired extensive knowledge of COVID-19 from research articles and relevant trainings provided by hospitals.8
During the COVID-19 outbreak, dental settings in China also reacted to avoid cross-infections. Procedures with a high potential risk of infection were reduced or deferred. After the spreading of COVID-19 was curbed in China, dental clinics and stomatology departments at hospitals returned to a full scope of dental services. To assist in reopening, new national protocols were implemented, which included sterilizations of physical working environment and level three protective measures (PM-3). Such measures, adopted by DHCP and all the other HCWs, require a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE), including medical uniforms, gown, medical cap, N95 respirator, goggles, face shield, medical hazmat suit, gloves, and medical shoe covers. Constant wearing of PPE was widely reported with effectiveness but also with discomfort.9 Specifically, shortness of breath, skin injuries, and other skin irritations were commonly observed in frontline HCWs.9 Moreover, DHCP were characterized with susceptibility to stress.10 Previous studies suggested various stress factors in dentistry work environment, such as patient relations,10 dental procedure-related factors,10 and heavy workload.11 Based on current situation and earlier studies, the mental status of DHCP requires attention from dental settings that reopened.
With an approximate population of 4.1 million, Yichang is only 200 miles away from its provincial capital Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first reported in China. According to the City Health Commission of Yichang, by the twelfth of June, 931 confirmed cases and 37 deaths of COVID-19 were reported in the greater Yichang area.12 Since April, dental settings in the area had gradually reopened. Considering its proximity to Wuhan, mental pressures on all DHCP were substantial. To provide insights to their psychological status, we compared the anxiety state of DHCP with that of the general public via Beck Anxiety Inventory (Chinese version). In this study, potential factors leading to anxiety disorders in DHCP during the pandemic were explored, aiming to provide data support for maintaining their mental health conditions.