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Table 1 Summary of the reviewed studies

From: Student support systems for undergraduate medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic narrative review of the literature

Author(s) Country Goal Intervention (n = participants) Outcomes
Ashokka et al. [26] Singapore To provide students with social, educational, emotional, and material support. Support was provided to quarantined students through volunteer groups, peer support systems, and faculty staff, some of whom visited the student dormitories while maintaining personal protection. Both educational and emotional support was provided, with relief packages also being dispensed among the students. Online communication platforms formed the basis of the majority of the social support and teaching services. By obtaining informal feedback from the parties involved, the researchers found that a smooth transition to online communication was made, though technical difficulties (e.g., poor internet bandwidth) and concerns regarding the need for real-life student-patient interactions were put forth by both students and staff.
Blasco et al. [27] Brazil Maintaining mental and emotional stability Short videos were provided in order to address emotional and mental issues and coping strategies. The videos were adapted from cinema movies. Early feedback obtained via social media were analyzed by a qualitative approach, indicating the positive impact of the program.
Gernert et al. [28] Germany Adapting to the unexpected halt in traditional mentoring and fixing the resulting confusion of many students. Adapting the existing mentoring program to digital platforms through three different events: 1. How To Klink (n = 120); 2. FachartzDuell (n = 105); and 3. Eight sessions of Auf ein gesprach mit (AEGM), which provided support in clinical studies and career counseling. A survey showed that the participating students had a high degree of satisfaction. Also, online support platforms were welcomed as well as in-person strategies.
Guse et al. [29] Germany To investigate the effect of mentoring on psychological issues and perspectives on the educational status of students. General mentoring program (g-mentoring) for all volunteer students and e-mentoring for students with outstanding course outcomes and scientific interest (from year two onwards). Outcomes were evaluated with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4) and by determining the perspectives on educational status using self-created objectives in comparison with students who did not participate in mentoring programs (n = 543). Trainees in e- and g- mentoring groups had lower levels of mental issues. Most of the participants (55%) were concerned about their educational status in the pandemic era. More students in the e-mentoring group reported being “as worried or unworried as before” about the educational status. The majority of students, regardless of mentoring, reported a drop in motives for education.
Hodgson & Hagan [30]. United Kingdom To offer online virtual support to students. Student support groups were transitioned to a virtual support system using the Microsoft Teams software (Microsoft, Redmond, WA, U.S.) at two UK universities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Positive feedback was obtained regarding the new support system.
Huddart et al. [31] United Kingdom To resolve medical students’ ambiguity about incoherent information and exhibit student initiatives. A one-hour national Twitter-based discussion on the uncertainties, concerns, and initiatives of UK medical students concerning the COVID-19 was done. Some of the students’ critical concerns included the fear of burnout, the necessity of adequate supervision, and the need for personal protective equipment. Furthermore, students shared uncertainty regarding whether they could obtain the required clinical skills through online learning systems.
Lee et al. [32] Singapore To provide academic support to medical students, thereby helping them overcome problems related to new educational programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. A coaching program was devised using the master adaptive learning (MAL) framework to build on medical students’ abilities and provide them with much-needed support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The framework consisted of the four stages of planning, learning, assessing, and adjusting. The program led to significant improvements in the students’ academic performance besides providing them with an excellent support network during the troubling conditions.
Rastegar Kazerooni et al. [33] Iran To improve students’ coping skills and mental preparedness in the face of the pandemic. Junior medical students underwent near-peer mentoring by senior students and expert faculty members using a social media platform. (n = 371) The survey questionnaire indicated a positive impact on the professional growth of the juniors. The program helped them to adjust to the unprecedented conditions. Nonetheless, the desire for non-virtual face to face consultations prevailed
Stetson et al. [34] USA To promote professional identity formation and reduce anxiety, fear, and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zoom application (Zoom Video Communications Inc., USA) was used to facilitate small group-based guided reflection to promote professional identity formation by mitigating anxiety, fear, and stress among medical students of the San Francisco School of Medicine. The students felt that by allowing them to discuss their thoughts and emotions with their peers, the program reduced their isolation and normalized their reactions, ultimately reducing stress and anxiety.
Zibold et al. [35] Germany To adapt to online methods for mentoring medical students. Monthly training for peer mentors via Zoom, weekly counseling sessions with the mentoring program coordinator for students, and developing a new activity (“PubQuiz”) to reduce the psychological burden and increase collaborations between mentees and mentors (n = 35). Positive feedback was provided from the program users. Also, users asked for the continuation of the online program as well as in-person ones.