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CAREER - Primary care dental staff show variation in wellbeing over time during pandemic


The CAREER project, carried out by NES and the universities of Dundee and St Andrews, has sought to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the anxiety, feelings of uncertainty and preparedness for practice of dental trainees and primary care dental practice staff.

The project comprised the following:

  • An online questionnaire survey at baseline and at 6 months follow-up
  • Completion of a longitudinal diary by project volunteers
  • Focus groups with a range of trainees and primary care dental professionals.

The project found that the pandemic had a significant effect on the wellbeing of dental practitioners and dental care professionals in Scotland. 

At baseline a quarter of participants (including trainees) reported depressive symptoms, and more than half of primary care team staff (excluding trainees) rated themselves as 'emotionally exhausted'.

Diary volunteers showed, on average, a deterioration in their wellbeing over the time period studied. Some staff actually felt less exhausted over time whereas others deteriorated at a significant rate; in other words, there was substantial variation in their response to the longer-term nature of the pandemic. 

The project also identified significant concerns surrounding the sustainability of dental services and dental training programmes in the medium to longer term.

NES Dental Director David Felix said:  "This important work lends further evidence to the need for the development of suitable and ongoing measures for supporting the mental wellbeing of dental practitioners and dental care professionals in Scotland.

NES continue to look at how to incorporate this into our work at both the level of the individual and the wider team. The findings are also relevant in terms of policy and system-wide interventions and we shall continue to share and discuss these implications with our key stakeholders" 

To read the publications from the project to date please visit

Questions can be directed to Jennifer Knights, Specialist Research Lead at