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Prevalence of depressive symptoms among dental students is influenced by sex, academic performance, smoking exposure, and sexual orientation


Academic performance
Students, dental
Mental health

How to Cite

Oliveira de Freitas B, Casarin M, Almeida RZ de, Pessoa Gomes JM, Cepeda IVB, Muniz FWMG. Prevalence of depressive symptoms among dental students is influenced by sex, academic performance, smoking exposure, and sexual orientation: cross-sectional study. Braz. J. Oral Sci. [Internet]. 2022 Nov. 3 [cited 2024 Apr. 14];22(00):e239237. Available from:


Aim: To estimate the prevalence and associated factors of self-reported depressive symptoms in undergraduate and graduate dental students. Methods: The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) was applied, and only the depression domain was verified. A structured questionnaire was used to collect sociodemographic, behavioral, and COVID-19 pandemic-related fear variables. Academic performance was assessed based on academic records, ranging from 0 (worst possible grade) to 10 (best possible grade). Respondents included 408 regularly enrolled dental students. Bi- and multivariate analyses were performed using Poisson regression with robust variance to verify the association between at least moderate depressive symptoms and independent variables. Results: The prevalence of at least moderate depression was 40.5% among undergraduate students and 26% among graduate students. The prevalence of fear and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic was 96.1% among undergraduate students and 93.5% among graduate students. In the final multivariate analysis, being female (prevalence ratio [PR]:2.01; 95% confidence interval [95%CI]:1.36–2.96) was associated with a higher PR for depression. Conversely, no exposure to smoking (PR:0.54; 95%CI:0.36–0.82) and a final academic performance average ≥7.0 (PR:0.56; 95%CI:0.41–0.76) was associated with a lower PR for depression. Finally, among graduate students, a non-heterosexual orientation was associated with a higher PR for depression (PR:6.70; 95%CI:2.21–20.29). Conclusion: Higher rates of depression symptoms were observed in female undergraduates, students with lower academic performance and smoking exposure, and graduate dental students with a non-heterosexual orientation.


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Copyright (c) 2022 Bruna Oliveira de Freitas, Maísa Casarin, Rafaela Zazyki de Almeida, Jessica Maria Pessoa Gomes, Isadora Vilas Boas Cepeda, Francisco Wilker Mustafa Gomes Muniz


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