Knowledge, attitude and practice about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its psychological impact on students and their studies : a cross-sectional study among pharmacy students in Saudi Arabia

Alrasheedy, Alian A and Abdulsalim, Suhaj and Farooqui, Maryam and Alsahali, Saud and Godman, Brian (2021) Knowledge, attitude and practice about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its psychological impact on students and their studies : a cross-sectional study among pharmacy students in Saudi Arabia. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 14. 729—741.

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    Abstract

    Background: Individuals' knowledge, attitude and practice towards preventive and precautionary measures of COVID-19 are essential to control the spread of the disease. Consequently, the aims of the study were to evaluate knowledge, attitude and practice of pharmacy students towards the pandemic and to assess its psychological impact on them to provide future guidance. Methods: A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study was conducted via a web-based survey in May 2020. All pharmacy students enrolled at Unaizah College of Pharmacy, Qassim University, were invited to take part in the study. Results: A total of 232 out of 460 students took part in the study, giving a response rate of 50.43%. The mean total knowledge score was 9.87 ± 2.04 (maximum attainable score, 12). The majority of the participants (n=163; 70.3%) believed COVID-19 is a health threat to their community in the early months of the pandemic. Moreover, the majority (93%) also believed that the lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic was necessary to contain the pandemic. Encouragingly, 86.6% reported that they did not go to any crowded places during the pandemic with more female students avoiding crowded places compared to male students (91.6% versus 78.7%, respectively, P = 0.005). The majority (91%) also reported that they were following the strategies recommended by the authorities to prevent the spread of the virus. Encouragingly, 54.3% reported that the pandemic either had no effect or just a limited effect on their studies. However, 38.5% reported that they always felt or frequently felt nervous or anxious during the pandemic. Conclusion: The study showed that pharmacy students had good knowledge as well as positive attitudes and good practices towards COVID-19 and the preventive measures. However, during the early months, the pandemic did have a negative psychological impact on a number of students. Consequently, proactive psychological and social support services to the students should be considered during the current and future pandemics. In addition, it is important to consider and proactively address key issues that could cause stress and anxiety among students when shifting to distance learning and assessments.