Emergency remote learning in anatomy during the COVID-19 pandemic: A study evaluating academic factors contributing to anxiety among first year medical students

Supraja Srivastava, Jenny Jacob, Aby S. Charles, Priyanka Daniel*, John K. Mathew, Pauline Shanthi, Kiran Devamani, Gowri Mahasampath, Suganthy Rabi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: ‘Emergency remote learning’ (ERL) has been undertaken as an emergency response globally to facilitate online shift of medical education due to COVID-19. Although medical students world-wide have reported an increased level of anxiety, factors in the academic setting during ERL that influenced anxiety levels have not been studied yet. The present study aimed to evaluate anxiety levels of first year medical students and its correlation with academic factors during ERL. Methods: ERL for neuroanatomy was conducted for six weeks mainly by online small group teaching. At completion, feedback was collected from students (n = 97) which included a GAD-7 questionnaire for anxiety levels and a modified VARK analysis to record changes in learning styles. Results: Of 97 students (M46, F51) 43.30% had minimal, 31.96% mild, 10.31% moderate and 14.43% severe anxiety. Academic exchanges such as student–teacher interaction (80.41%), tutor feedback (90.72%) and mentor meetings (81.44%) were reported to be advantageous. There was a significant (p = 0.0056) correlation between enjoyment of small group discussion and lower GAD-7 scores. There was significant change in perceived learning styles during ERL. Video calls (p = 0.018) and gaming (p = 0.022) were significant modes of stress relief. There was significant correlation (p = 0.022) between gaming and GAD-7 scores. Conclusion: About one-fourth of the students faced anxiety issues during ERL period. Small group interactions with focus on promoting connectedness and interaction, augmented by feedback, mentorship, familial and social support are important in reducing anxiety which should be kept in mind by educators while delivering such learning experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S90-S98
JournalMedical Journal Armed Forces India
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Emergency remote learning
  • GAD-7
  • Medical students
  • Online learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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