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Survey of German medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic: attitudes toward volunteering versus compulsory service and associated factors
  1. Lorenz Mihatsch1,
  2. Mira von der Linde2,
  3. Franziska Knolle3,4,
  4. Benjamin Luchting5,
  5. Konstantinos Dimitriadis6,
  6. Jens Heyn1
  1. 1Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Münster, Munster, Germany
  3. 3Department of diagnostic and interventional Neuroradiology, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  5. 5Department of Pain Medicine, Landsberg am Lech Clinic, Landsberg am Lech, Germany
  6. 6Department of Neurology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Lorenz Mihatsch, Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany; l.mihatsch{at}


Due to the spread of COVID-19, a key challenge was to reduce potential staff shortages in the healthcare sector. Besides recruiting retired healthcare workers, medical students were considered to support this task. Commitment of medical students in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic was evaluated using an online survey, with particular focus on their burdens and anxieties. This survey was distributed to students within a 2-week period in April and May 2020. Ultimately, 1241 participants were included in the analysis. During the pandemic, 67.9% (65.3% to 70.5%) of the participants reported that they had volunteered. Furthermore, 88.9% (86.9% to 90.5%) stated that they were against compulsory recruitment in this context. Students who volunteered (committed students) had a significantly lower anxiety index than non-committed students. Additionally, students were more concerned about infecting other patients and relatives than themselves. Higher levels of anxiety were related to lower levels of commitment. A mandatory assignment during the pandemic was rejected by the students and does not seem to be necessary due to the large number of volunteers.

  • allocation of healthcare resources
  • behavioural research
  • COVID-19
  • health personnel

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors LM, MvdL, FK and JH designed the study. LM, BL and KD collected the data. LM performed the statistical analysis. All authors were involved in the interpretation of the data. LM and JH wrote the manuscript. MvdL, FK, BL and KD were involved in drafting the manuscript and revising it critically for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding FK received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 (grant number: 754462). The remaining authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests JH is employee of Sandoz/Hexal. His occupation neither affected on the planning and execution of the study nor on the manuscript. All other authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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