This study explores the perception and preparedness of international medical students residing in university hostels amid the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The findings from this study lighten the peoples perspectives that help the government to prepare public health strategies based on population-focused approaches.
Background COVID-19 pandemic has portentously frightened the existence of life all over the world. The lockdown approach was adopted as a containment strategy as the disease itself has manifested severe social, economic, and psychiatric implications. Objectives To explore the perception and preparedness of international medical students residing in university hostels amid the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Design A semi-structured interview guide was developed in this qualitative study design. All the interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim, and then analyzed for thematic contents by standard content analysis framework. Setting Interviews were conducted in university hostels in Punjab, Pakistan. Participants A total of 11 international medical students were interviewed face-to-face through the purposive sampling technique to obtain in-depth individual viewpoints. Results The thematic content analysis yielded five major themes: Familiarity with COVID-19, Perceptions and attitudes towards COVID-19, Preparedness for safety against COVID-19, Barriers to lifestyle, and Psychological perspectives. A better general perception and preparedness among international medical students regarding COVID-19 was found. Good knowledge regarding the overview of COVID-19; adequate preventive approaches such as social distancing, use of masks, gloves, and sanitizers; and compliance with the lockdown measures were reported by the respondents. The pertinent issue raised by the respondents is the disturbance in normal routine due to distortion in social life and isolation that may cause psychological stress. Conclusions The findings from this study lighten the peoples perspectives that help the government to prepare public health strategies based on population-focused approaches. The present study demonstrates the respondents opinion on COVID-19 management by personal hygiene, social distancing, and complying with the lockdown measures. Furthermore, it demands that timely and evidence-based teaching-learning techniques should be adopted for students engagement which ensures mental health and self-motivation as well. Therefore, they can utilize their time productively which could have a long-term effect on their careers and healthcare services.