Epidemiological Aspects and Psychological Reactions to COVID-19 of Dental Practitioners in the Northern Italy Districts of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

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The outbreak and diffusion of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (Sars-CoV-2) and COronaVIrus Disease 19 (COVID-19) have caused an emergency status in the health system, including in the dentistry environment. Italy registered the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world and the second highest in Europe. An anonymous online survey composed of 40 questions has been sent to dentists practicing in the area of Modena and Reggio Emilia, one of the areas in Italy most affected by COVID-19. The survey was aimed at highlighting the practical and emotional consequences of COVID-19 emergence on daily clinical practice. Specifically, it assessed dentists’ behavioral responses, emotions and concerns following the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic restrictive measures introduced by the Italian national administrative order of 10 March 2020 (DM-10M20), as well as the dentists’ perception of infection likelihood for themselves and patients. Furthermore, the psychological impact of COVID-19 was assessed by means of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 test (GAD-7), that measures the presence and severity of anxiety symptoms. Using local dental associations (ANDI-Associazione Nazionale Dentisti Italiani, CAO-Commissione Albo Odontoiatri) lists, the survey was sent by email to all dentists in the district of Modena and Reggio Emilia (874 practitioners) and was completed by 356 of them (40%). All dental practitioners closed or reduced their activity to urgent procedures, 38.2% prior to and 61.8% after the DM-10M20. All reported a routinely use of the most common protective personal equipment (PPE), but also admitted that the use of PPE had to be modified during COVID-19 pandemic. A high percentage of patients canceled their previous appointments after the DM-10M20. Almost 85% of the dentists reported being worried of contracting the infection during clinical activity. The results of the GAD-7 (General Anxiety Disorder-7) evaluation showed that 9% of respondents reported a severe anxiety. To conclude, the COVID-19 emergency is having a highly negative impact on the activity of dentists practicing in the area of Modena and Reggio Emilia. All respondents reported practice closure or strong activity reduction. The perception of this negative impact was accompanied by feelings of concern (70.2%), anxiety (46.4%) and fear (42.4%). The majority of them (89.6%) reported concerns about their professional future and the hope for economic measures to help dental practitioners.

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