EC Dental Science

Research Article Volume 22 Issue 6 - 2023

Policy Changes and Anxiety in Canadian Dental Hygienists During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Lindsay K Macdonald1*, Sijie Yang2 and Leigha D Rock2,3

1Faculty of Dentistry, School of Dental Hygiene, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
2Alumna, Dental Hygiene Degree Program, Faculty of Dentistry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
3Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

*Corresponding Author: Lindsay K Macdonald, Faculty of Dentistry, School of Dental Hygiene, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.
Received: May 09, 2023; Published: May 26, 2023

Background and Aim: The COVID-19 outbreak has profoundly affected the dental hygiene workforce in Canada, revealing gaps in psychological factors affecting oral healthcare providers in response to policy changes. The objective of this study was to understand how Canadian dental hygienists experienced anxiety with policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to determine what causes of anxiety were identified by dental hygienists in relation to policy changes and the actions dental hygienists would like to see from regulatory authorities to help manage this anxiety.

Methods: Participants were invited through provincial regulatory body's emailing lists for participation in a longitudinal web-based survey regarding COVID-19 experiences. This qualitative descriptive study nested within a prospective cohort study focused on one open-ended question administered between November 2021 and January 2022. Responses (n = 118) were analyzed descriptively through thematic analysis. Investigator triangulation was used to ensure rigour and confirmability.

Results: Five major themes were identified: autonomy and safety, provision of support services, guideline synchronization, legislatively mandated vaccination and other. The imbalance between autonomy, responsibilities and lack of support was reported among dental hygienists working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participant responses cited that synchronized protocols among regulatory authorities would facilitate better cooperation in collaborative oral healthcare settings.

Conclusion: Dental hygienists reported experiencing anxiety in relation to policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic due to conflicting regulatory directives and an unbalanced distribution of responsibility and autonomy within the dental team. Establishing consistent guidelines between regulatory authorities that balance provider autonomy with professional responsibility is warranted.

Keywords: Dental Hygienists; COVID-19; Anxiety; Regulatory Body; Protocol; Policy Change

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Lindsay K Macdonald., et al. "Policy Changes and Anxiety in Canadian Dental Hygienists During the COVID-19 Pandemic". EC Dental Science 22.6 (2023): 68-77.