Medical students are willing to participate in COVID-19 frontline prevention work in Vietnam

23 Aug 2021

To effectively control COVID-19 in a resource-scarce developing nation like Vietnam, it is crucial that all health care professionals, including medical students, are willing and able to serve in the frontline health workforce. The constant emergence of new variants puts the country at very high risk. Controlling the spread and treating the patients affected by the disease requires the readiness of the entire health care workforce, include medical students.

In a new study recently published in Frontiers in Public Health, Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, Assistant Professor of Nursing in the College of Health Sciences, and her collaborators concluded that medical students in Vietnam are willing to participate in COVID-19 frontline prevention activities if certain factors are favorable.

“Students who reported a more positive attitude, greater perceived support from surrounded people, and stronger perceived behavior control were more likely to have greater intention to participate in the COVID-19 frontline prevention activities when needed.”, the authors reported.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong and her team developed the data collection questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. Researchers collected data from 597 medical students in December 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Theory of Planned Behavior was developed in 1980 as a tool to predict the intention to engage in a particular behavior at a place and time. Since then, it has been used successfully to predict and explain health behaviors and intentions such as smoking, drinking, utilizing health services, etc. This is central in the nursing program at VinUniversity, Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong emphasized. Findings from this study suggest that the Theory of Planned Behavior was a good instrument to predict the intention to engage in COVID related activities among Vietnamese medical students.

The results of the study show that subjective norm, which is “a perception about behavior influenced by the judgment of significant others”, is a significant factor in decision making for this population. For these young college students, support from families, peers, schools, and communities is very important and strongly influences their beliefs and choices.

Students also indicated that in order to engage in prevention and patient care activities, they must be assured of their safety. This includes availability of personal protective equipment, appropriate safety measures at health facilities and communities, and safeguarding their progress towards their degrees. This study provides insightful guidance to administration and health authorities on the steps they will need to take in order to mobilize this talented and willing group of medical students in the efforts to battle COVID-19 in Vietnam.

Factors Associated With the Intention to Participate in Coronavirus Disease 2019 Frontline Prevention Activities Among Nursing Students in Vietnam: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior was published in Frontiers in Public Health, July 02, 2021.

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