Background: Since December 2019, a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began its journey around the world. Medical students, as frontline healthcare workers, are more susceptible to be infected by the virus. The aim of this study was to assess COVID-19 related knowledge, self-reported preventive behaviors and risk perception among Iranian medical students within the first week after the onset of the outbreak in Iran.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted from 26th to 28th of February, 2020. Participants were Iranian medical students (5th-7th year) whose knowledge, preventive behaviors and risk perceptions of COVID-19 were assessed using an online questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of 26 questions including 15 items about COVID-19 related knowledge, 9 items regarding preventive measures and 2 items about COVID-19 risk perception. The validity and reliability of the questionnaire were shown to be satisfactory.
Results: A total of 240 medical students completed the questionnaire. The mean age of participants was 23.67 years. The average of correct answers of knowledge was 86.96%; and 79.60% had high level of related knowledge. The average rate of practicing preventive behaviors was 94.47%; and 94.2% had high level of performance in preventive behaviors. The cumulative score of risk perception was 4.08 out of 8 which was in moderate range. Risk perception was significantly different between stagers and interns and between those being trained in emergency room (ER) and non-ER wards. There was a significant negative correlation between preventive behaviors and risk perception.
Conclusion: We found a high level of COVID-19 related knowledge and self-reported preventive behaviors and moderate risk perception among Iranian medical students.