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Mühlbauer, Luisa; Huber, Johanna; Fischer, Martin R.; Berberat, Pascal O. and Gartmeir, Martin (2021): Medical students' engagement in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: The influence of psychological factors on readiness to volunteer. In: Gms Journal for Medical Education, Vol. 38, No. 6, Doc110

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Objective: To avert staff shortages during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in spring 2020, the medical faculties of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) appealed to their students to volunteer for relief work. In this study, we examine the influence of psychological factors on the students' decisions to respond to this call or not. Methodology: We report on a cross-sectional study based on an online survey among medical students at the TUM and LMU. The survey consisted of a questionnaire containing items on motivation and other factors related to the decision for or against volunteering. Questions were also asked about anxieties regarding COVID-19 and the occurrence of depressive symptoms, as well as about resilience. Results: Responses from 244 participants were analysed. Students' decisions to volunteer revealed both altruistic and introjected motivations. For those students who did not volunteer, time overlaps and workload related to other activities played an important role. Between the two groups, no significant difference was detected in terms of their resilience and COVID-19-related anxieties. However, the non-volunteering students reported a significantly higher prevalence of depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Sense of duty and the desire to help were, according to the students, the most important reasons for volunteering. Depressive symptoms and lack of time made volunteering less likely. Resilience and COVID-19-related anxieties do not seem to have had any influence on the decision to volunteer or not.

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