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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 1109-1114

Association of sociodemographic factors and emotional intelligence with academic performance in clinical and preclinical dental courses

1 Department of Prosthodontics, College of Dentistry, King Khalid University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
2 Institute of Dentistry, CMH Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan

Date of Acceptance04-Apr-2019
Date of Web Publication14-Aug-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. S B Haralur
Department of Prosthodontics, College of Dentistry, King Khalid University
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_37_19

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Background: The dental graduation program is stressful and challenging as it is essential to master various skills. The emotional intelligence (EI) is reported to help in perceiving, moderating emotions and also play a significant role in academic excellence. Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the sociodemographic factors influencing EI and to determine the association of EI in academic performance of clinical and preclinical courses. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study included the 113 dental clinical internship students from five different dental schools at Pakistan. The self-administered questionnaire data included sociodemographic factors, academic performance in preclinical, clinical courses, and San Diego City College MESA Program–based EI responses. The results were analyzed with multiple linear regression and ordinal regression to identify the independent predictor for EI and academic performance. Results: The female participants had marginally higher mean EI score (109.67) in comparison to male counterparts (108.10). The independent predictors among sociodemographic factors for EI were having siblings (P = 0.016), loss of parents (P = 0.002), parents' education (P = 0.022), and relation with parents (P = 0.03). The students enjoy studying dentistry were also associated with higher EI scores (P = 0.002). The mean EI score was an independent predictor of academic performance predominantly in clinical courses [β = −0.041 (95% confidence interval − 0.063 to − 0.020); P = 0.000]. Conclusion: The finding of the study indicates the influence of family and social factors in the development of EI. The dental students' EI is vital for higher academic performance in clinical courses.

Keywords: Academic performance, dental care, dental education, emotional intelligence

How to cite this article:
Haralur S B, Majeed M I, Afzal M, Chaturvedi S. Association of sociodemographic factors and emotional intelligence with academic performance in clinical and preclinical dental courses. Niger J Clin Pract 2019;22:1109-14

How to cite this URL:
Haralur S B, Majeed M I, Afzal M, Chaturvedi S. Association of sociodemographic factors and emotional intelligence with academic performance in clinical and preclinical dental courses. Niger J Clin Pract [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Feb 3];22:1109-14. Available from:

   Introduction Top

The educationists are always in a quest to improve the effective delivery of education and consequently, to improve students' academic success. Multiple factors are attributed to academic success, including the intelligence quotient, self-motivation, relationship with peers and teachers, socioeconomic status, family support, and personality. Goleman [1] proposed that individual success predominately depends on emotional intelligence (EI) (80%) compared with intelligence quotient (20%). His observation led to a series of studies on the importance of EI in personal success. Researchers are of the opinion that the EI improves the reasoning ability, decision-making, and ability to work under pressure.[2] Nelson et al.[3] reported that the EI positively contributes to five key learning dimensions of interpersonal communication, personal leadership, self-management, intrapersonal development, and recognizing the potential problems. It helps in developing a required skill of career and life to experience more health and effectiveness in complex education life.

The dental students were reported to be at a higher level of stress, anxiety, and depression than the students from other faculties.[4] Researchers are of the opinion that the major sources of stress and anxiety are workload, clinical requirements, examinations, and dental supervisors.[5] The transitional period from preclinical to the clinical situation is reported to be highly stressful [6] due to the multitude of factors, which include the difference in the learning environment, employing the skill and knowledge to the clinical setup, adapting to new learning strategies, and performance expectation.[7] The clinical courses expose the students to the additional challenge of dealing with patients with different personalities. The abilities of students to understand, communicate, and convince the patient's problem and expectations are crucial skills for better performance in clinical courses.

Students with higher EI having less stress during examination and better self-reported mental and physical health are well-documented by earlier researches.[8] Salovey and Grewal suggested the four dimensions for EI. These were perceiving, using, understanding, and managing the emotions.[9] These four dimensions will serve an individual to understand his own emotions and patient's emotions, aid in managing emotions, and help in arriving at an appropriate problem-solving decisions. These facets will help the students in clinical training to develop empathy, better interpersonal relationship, and superior patient satisfaction.[10] Barchard [11] suggested improved self-motivation and self-regulation in persons, while Satterfield et al.[12] reported higher ratings for overall clinical performance, medical interviewing, and lower levels of burnout. Higher levels of EI among the dental student reported to help them in reflection on the stressful situations, social, and interpersonal coping methods.[13] Thus, these students could regulate emotions more effectively than their colleagues. The clinical courses are significantly diverse from initial preclinical courses due to the different learning environment, the need for interpersonal communication with patients, teachers, colleagues, and clinical skill assessment.

The data on the sociodemographic predictors for EI and their association with academic performance in clinical and preclinical dental courses are scarce in the literature. The results will help the educationists and healthcare programmers to review the curriculum to enhance the EI, and consequently help in better treatment outcome, with satisfied patients. Hence, in this cross-sectional study, we evaluated the sociodemographic factors influencing the development of EI and the association of EI on academic performance in initial preclinical courses and advanced clinical course among dental students.

   Materials and Methods Top

The institutional review board approval was obtained for the study proposal before the initiation of the study.

Research design

The quantitative research design methodology adopted in the study was descriptive, correlation research. The correlation study design was selected with an aim of evaluating the relationship between the EI (independent variable) and academic achievement (dependent) in preclinical and clinical courses among the dental undergraduate students.

Population and sampling

Dental education in Pakistan is a 5-year program with 4 years of study and final 1-year clinical internship. The assessment of EI and academic performance during this level provides the complete data of preclinical and clinical performance. Hence, in this cross-sectional study, dental intern students from five different dental colleges at various cities of Pakistan were invited to participate in the study. The inclusion criteria were the participants willing to answer all the survey questions and those who completed all the required clinical and preclinical courses for dental under graduation. Of the 143 invited participants, 128 participants consented to take part in the study with a response rate of 89.5%. Fifteen responses were removed due to incomplete information. Hence, a total of 113 participant responses were analyzed. The study group included 73 females and 40 males with a mean age of 23 ± 1.8 years. This study was conducted during August to October 2018.


The questionnaire was used to collect all the responses from the participants. The questionnaire consisted of three sections. The first section comprised information regarding age, gender, and sociodemographic factors. The second section included the data on course code, name, and grades in both preclinical and clinical courses. The preclinical courses included in the study were oral biology, dental materials, and oral pathology. The mean scores from all three courses were calculated; the students were categorized according to the mean score. The criteria for student categories were as follows: ≥90 as 1, ≥80 as 2, ≥70 as 3, ≥60 as 4, and ≥50 as 5. The clinical courses included in the study were clinical periodontology, maxillofacial surgery, conservative dentistry, and clinical prosthodontics. The criterion for categorizing the students was similar to preclinical courses.

Section 3 of the questionnaire had responses to assess the EI. It was adopted from the San Diego City College MESA Program from a model by Paul Mohapel, which consisted of four dimensions of EI; they were emotional awareness, emotional management, socioemotional management, and relationship management. All four dimensions of EI had 10 items each. Each item response was on a 5-point Likert scale from 0 to 4, “0” being never, while 4 indicated always. The data were collected from consented participants by the direct face-to-face method. Participants were provided the concise explanation on the study and brief instruction on the questionnaire and 5-point Likert scale. The participants were given adequate time to complete the questionnaire, and the completed questionnaires were collected immediately. Reliability and consistency of the questionnaire were assessed with Cronbach's alpha value of 0.78.

Data analysis

The obtained data were analyzed using SPSS 22 (IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA). The descriptive analysis including frequency, percentage, and means was conducted to determine the EI level among the participants. Multiple linear regression was utilized to identify the sociodemographic factors associated with EI. The ordinal regression analysis was performed to predict all the five categories of academic performance.

   Results Top

The details of sociodemographic distribution and the corresponding EI scores are presented in [Table 1]. The female participants had marginally higher mean EI score of 109.67 in comparison to male counterparts with EI score of 108.10. A similar trend of marginally high mean EI score was recorded for participants residing in hostels during graduation (109.39) and family income above 100,000 PNR (109.61). A significantly higher EI score was observed in students who had siblings (110.24 vs 94.25) and good family support (109.64 vs 94.75). The social factors involving parents were found to influence the EI score among the participants; the factors included the parents' education (111.85 vs 103.50), good relation with parents (109.82 vs 89.75), and loss of parents (93.09 vs 110.65). Those involved in sports activities (109.72 vs 108.79), socialize in university (109.72 vs 106.42), and satisfied with facilities at a school (112.38 vs 107.16) had marginally higher mean EI scores. Those enjoyed studying dentistry were recorded with considerably higher EI score (111.64 vs 98.63).
Table 1: Sociodemographic factors and corresponding EI score among the studied population

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The multiple linear regression [Table 2] was calculated to predict the mean EI score based on the sociodemographic factors. The regression equation was found to be significant with having a sibling [F (1,111) = 5.953, P = 0.016] with an R2 of 0.051. The loss of parents and parents' education were also independent predictors of EI; the corresponding regression equations were [F (1,110) = 9.935, P = 0.002] with an R2 of 0.083 and [F (1,110) = 5.425, P = 0.022] with an R2 of 0.047. The other independent predictors for EI were good relation with parents [F (1,111) = 4.819, P = 0.030], R2 = 0.042, and interested in studying dentistry [F (1,111) = 9.686, P = 0.002), R2 = 0.080.
Table 2: Multiple linear regression between social factors and EI score

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The ordinal regression analysis included student categories according to the mean scores from preclinical and clinical courses. The ordinal regression analysis for preclinical courses and EI score [Table 3] after adjusting the gender indicated failure of the mean EI score as an independent predictor for the academic performance of the students. Meanwhile, the ordinal regression analysis for clinical courses [Table 4] and EI score registered the mean EI score as an independent predictor for the academic performance [β = −0.041 (95% confidence interval −0.063 to −0.020); P = 0.000].
Table 3: Ordinal regression for preclinical courses scores and EI score

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Table 4: Ordinal regression for clinical courses scores and EI score

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   Discussion Top

To understand the influence of EI on the academic performance in preclinical and clinical dental graduate courses, we obtained the data across multiple dental schools in Pakistan. The data regarding the role of EI in academic performances, especially the dental clinical course, are insufficient. Previous researches suggest the vital role of sociodemographic factors in the development of EI.[14] The results obtained from the study suggested that the mean EI among the female was marginally higher in comparison to the male counterparts. Previous researches regarding the variation in EI in gender showed diverse outcomes. Scherer and Petrick [15] proposed that the gender variations are due to cultural ideas influencing the postulations, anticipations, and behaviors of an individual. Hence, the gender-based EI reports from different geographical areas are diverse. The studies from the United States, Sri Lanka, and India showed higher EI among females,[16],[17],[18] while reports from Australia indicated that male students were emotionally more intelligent.[19] The result was in agreement with a previous study from the same geographical location in Pakistan with no significant gender difference in EI.[20] Higher empathy, the difference in socializing process, and a larger emotional processing area in the brain are attributed to higher EI among females.[21],[22] Students having siblings showed significantly higher EI scores in the study. Both direct and indirect sibling influences help in sociocognitive development. Extensive contact, companion, interaction, and conflict with sibling help in the development of emotion understanding, negotiation, persuasion, and problem-solving.[23] The study results suggest that parents' education and relation appear to positively influence the EI of students. Kaur and Jaswal [24] endorse the significant association between family environment and EI. The positive correlation between parents' education level and EI is reaffirmed with earlier findings from Harrod et al.[25] Children surrounded by caring and educated parents are reported to develop and nurture empathy, motivation, social skills, and self-regulation.[26] The difference in EI among those involved in sports activity and socializing at university was not significantly different from those who did not participate. Kumar et al.[27] reported the contradictory findings in a final-year dental student; socializing, physical, and recreational activities were significantly associated with higher EI. However, the EI among the students interested in studying dentistry was higher analogous to the present research.

The key finding of the study was the higher EI as an independent predictor for the academic performance in clinical courses. Dental education is a demanding and stressful specialty.[6] The students are required to master diverse cognitive, psychomotor, and interpersonal skills. The dental graduation curriculum consists of early preclinical courses to prepare the students for clinical situation. These courses include the didactic and simulation laboratories to train the students. The final evaluation comprised an assessment of knowledge and skill in simulation laboratories. These are followed by clinical courses, and the transition period from preclinical to clinical setup is reported to be highly stressful.[5] It is mandatory to treat minimum quota of patient and clinical procedure at the end of the academic year in a majority of clinical courses. Evaluation methods for clinical courses comprise written assignments, examinations, and clinical assessment. This requires additional interpersonal skill like empathy, active listening, effective communication to alleviate patient stress, and manage patient expectations. These skills are essential to improve patient health outcomes, satisfaction, and adherence to treatment plans.[28] During the clinical courses, the students need to have teamwork skills for interspecialty treatment and time management skills to complete all the clinical requirements. These additional skills will enhance the clinical training and performance at clinical assessments. Hence, these students with higher EI are expected to perceive, understand, and manage self and patient emotions, and thus perform better in advanced clinical courses.

The limitation of the study includes the higher number of female participants in comparison to the male counterparts. The sample size among some sociodemographic factors was small to generalize the results. Hence, further studies are recommended in a larger sample size. At present, the students for the dental graduate programs are selected purely on the academic performance in requisite courses. EI is recognized to play a vital role in clinical training and patient satisfaction; it is recommended to include the parameters to evaluate the personality and emotional characteristic during the recruitment of students. Previous researchers indicate that the EI skill can be taught and learned;[29] hence, the authors recommend including the training and evaluation methods in curriculum prior to clinical courses.

   Conclusion Top

Several sociodemographic factors such as having siblings, family relation, parents' education, and interest in studying dentistry were associated with high EI scores. The EI score was found to be an independent predictor for improved academic performance in clinical courses. Enhanced EI enhances career success, treatment quality, and patient satisfaction.

Data availability

The data used to support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


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