An exploration of mental health, stress and well-being concerns among health students undertaking rural placements in Australia during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic

Podubinski, T., Jessup, B., Obamiro, K., Hoang, H., and Bourke, L. (2023) An exploration of mental health, stress and well-being concerns among health students undertaking rural placements in Australia during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 31 (5). pp. 914-920.

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Abstract

Introduction: The emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 led to an increase in stressors for students on rural placements, but little is known about how this impacted their mental health and well-being.

Objective: To explore self-reported mental health, stress and well-being concerns among allied health, nursing and medical students who completed a scheduled University Department of Rural Health (UDRH)-faciliated rural placement in Australia between February and October 2020 (n = 1066).

Design: Cross-sectional design involving an online survey measuring mental health, stress and well-being concerns. The survey was distributed via email by the 16 UDRHs across Australia.

Findings: A total of 42.9%, 63.8% and 41.1% of survey respondents reported concerns about their mental health, levels of stress and well-being, respectively, during the early stages of the pandemic. Multiple logistic regression models found clinical training, course progression and financial concerns were predictive of negative mental health, increased stress and reduced well-being, while feeling connected was predictive of positive mental health, reduced stress and increased well-being.

Discussion: Universities, UDRHs and health placement sites all have a responsibility to support the mental health and well-being of students undertaking rural placements. This support needs to encompass strategies to reduce financial stress, protect learning opportunities and increase connectedness. Ensuring adequate resourcing and support for those providing rural placement opportunities will safeguard quality rural placements during times of pandemic disruption.

Item ID: 80412
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1584
Keywords: allied health, connection, medicine, nursing, support
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2024 06:45
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420321 Rural and remote health services @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200508 Rural and remote area health @ 100%
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