Mental health and wellbeing interventions in the dental sector: a systematic review
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Introduction UK dentists experience high levels of stress, anxiety and burnout. Poor mental health can lead practitioners to exit the profession, contributing to workforce and service loss. Therefore, there is a need to focus on interventions to protect the mental health and wellbeing of dental teams. Three levels of intervention can be deployed in the workplace to support mental health and wellbeing: primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention.Aim The aim of this systematic review was to identify evidence on interventions used to prevent, improve or tackle mental health issues among dental team members and dental profession students in countries of very high development.Methods This systematic review was conducted according to a predefined protocol and reported according to PRISMA guidelines. The MEDLINE, Embase CINAHL, DOSS, Scopus, and PsycINFO databases were searched. Prospective empirical studies were considered for inclusion. The Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool (EPHPP) was used to assess the methodological quality of the included studies. The identified interventions were categorised according to level of prevention.Results The search yielded 12,919 results. Eight studies met the inclusion criteria. All of the studies concerned dentists or dental students. There were no studies for other groups of dental professionals. No primary prevention-level studies were identified. Secondary prevention-level studies (n = 4) included various psychoeducational interventions aiming to raise awareness and improve coping skills and led to significant improvements in stress levels and burnout of dentists and dental students. Tertiary prevention-level studies (n = 4) mainly employed counselling which was shown to be beneficial for dentists and students experiencing psychological ill-health.Conclusions Mental wellbeing awareness should be put at the centre of dental education and the workplace. Leadership and innovation are required to design primary-level interventions which can be implemented in the UK dental sector, with its distinct organisational and service characteristics.
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