Wellness among dental students: An institutional study

Peter L. Harrison, Luciana M. Shaddox, Cynthia W. Garvan, Linda S. Behar-Horenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The high prevalence of distress among health professionals during their education has fostered increased interest in the study of student well-being. The aim of this study was to assess the self-perceived wellness of dental students and determine the relationship between factors affecting wellness and demographic variables. An online questionnaire was distributed to 334 first-through fourth-year dental students at one U.S. dental school. The questionnaire consisted of modified versions of the Perceived Wellness Survey, Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey, and Mental Health Inventory and also collected demographic information. The response rate was 78% (N=261). More than 80% of the respondents reported that they were happy all, most, or a good bit of the time. These students exhibited a strong sense of self-worth, were positive about their friendships, and perceived they had good social support. Less than 20% of respondents did not view their physical health as excellent and identified a lack of self-perceived wellness. First-year and single students reported statistically less social support. Students who were parents perceived their wellness less favorably. Hispanic and Asian students were less happy regarding their mental health than white and African American students. These findings suggest that students, especially Hispanic and Asian students, may benefit from programs that promote student well-being. Academic programs that encourage students to work together and promote peer-to-peer involvement may be beneficial, especially for first-year and single students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1125
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Dr. Patricia Xirau-Probert, Assistant Dean for Student and Multicultural Affairs, University of Florida College of Dentistry, and Ms. Nina Guba, dental student, for their assistance with this project. This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number and title for grant amount (award #1 D86HP24477-01-00, faculty development supporting academic dental institution curriculum for 21st century; awarded $2,552,191). This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. government.


  • Dental education
  • Dental students
  • Mental health
  • Social support
  • Stress
  • Wellness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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