A scoping review of the literature on the impact of the COVID-19 quarantine on the psychological wellbeing of medical students
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Background: The goal of this study was to identify the nature and extent of the available published research on the impact of social isolation, on the psychological wellbeing of medical students, who had to quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Design. Scoping review. Search strategy: The PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews), guideline, was used to structure this study. A search strategy was carried out across six bibliographic databases. PubMed, Embase, ERIC, Scopus, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Web of Science. The following search terms were used, "medical student*" AND "impact" AND "quarantine" AND "COVID-19". Searches were initially confined to articles published (excluding conference abstracts) between 1 January 2019- 21 August 2021 but updated in September 2022 with the original search terms expanded to include "isolation" or "lockdown" as well as "quarantine" and the period of search extended to 21 August 2022. A search of secondary references was conducted. Data from the selected studies were extracted, and the following variables recorded; first author and year of publication, country of study, study design, sample size, participants, mode of analysing impact of quarantine from COVID-19 on mental health and results of the studies. Results: A total of 223 articles were identified in the original search in 2021 and 387 articles, in the updated search in 2022. Following the exclusion of duplicates and application of the agreed inclusion and exclusion criteria, 31 full-text articles were identified for the final review, most of which were cross sectional studies. Sample sizes ranged from 13 to 4193 students and most studies used a variety of self-administered questionnaires to measure psychological wellbeing. Overall, 26 of the 31 articles showed that quarantine had a negative impact on the psychological well-being of medical students. However, two studies showed no impact, and three studies showed an improvement. Conclusion: The evidence is growing. Quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a negative impact on the psychological wellbeing of medical students, but this is not certain. There is therefore a need for more studies to further evaluate this research question.