Intersection of Forensic Odontology and Psychology
Keywords:Forensic Odontology, forensic dentists, mental health, psychology, well-being, stress
Forensic odontologists are expected to deal with challenging demands which can affect their mental health while dealing with forensic activities. This study aimed to explore the psychological impacts of forensic activities on forensic odontologists and students undertaking training. It consisted of two methods: an integrative review (part I) on the psychological effects of the forensic odontology practice which was performed on Scopus, Medline and Web of Science and an anonymous online survey using the JISC Online Surveys tool (part II) that investigated the opinions on the psychological effects of forensic activities for forensic odontologists from organizations such as International Organization for Forensic Odonto-Stomatology (IOFOS) and associations named Association of Forensic Odontologists for Human Rights (AFOHR) and Dentify.me. Results were quantitatively evaluated by means of descriptive statistics and qualitatively upon reflection using Microsoft Office Excel (2010).
Part I, only one full-text article out of 2235 (Webb et al., 2002) was found eligible indicating a low number of eligible studies. Part II, 75 forensic odontologists and 26 students (49.9% male; 50.5% female) from over 35 countries participated. Results showed that forensic dentists are more psychologically or emotionally affected by child abuse cases and least affected by age estimation cases. Most experienced forensic odontologists reported the lowest scores of discomforts. Males were more comfortable than women in dealing with stress. 80.77% (n= 21) of the students have not experienced any behavioural changes following mortuary sessions but 19.2% (n= 5) witnessed stress. All respondents support the inclusion of a module in Psychology or stress management in training programmes in Forensic Odontology. Suggestions to maintain mental health are considered by the respondents and topics to be taught suggested by a psychologist.