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July 2021 civil unrest: South African diagnostic radiography students’ experiences

Kathleen Naidoo
Shantel Lewis
Hafsa Essop
Gerhardus G.V. Koch
Thandokuhle E. Khoza
Nape M. Phahlamohlaka
Nicole R. Badriparsad


Background: South Africa (SA), in 2021, experienced a wave of civil unrest following political events that led to mass looting and the  destruction of property. Civil unrests, among other disruptions, have been seen to cause ripple effects on healthcare education,  particularly for radiography students who undergo work integrated learning within hospitals and universities, even during these times of  unrest.

Aim: This study aimed to explore and describe the undergraduate diagnostic radiography students’ experience of the civil unrest that  occurred in SA in 2021.

Setting: The study was conducted across five universities in South Africa, offering the diagnostic radiography  programme.

Methods: A qualitative, interpretive phenomenological design was employed as it enabled the researchers to facilitate focus  group interviews to gain insight into the lived experiences of the students during this time.

Results: Four themes emerged from  the study data, namely: (1) Negative effects on students’ emotional and psychological well-being, (2) Academic and clinical support  mechanisms during disruptions, (3) The influence of disruptions on clinical training, (4) Recommendations to support students for future  disruptions.

Conclusion: The participants from this study described the negative effects that the civil unrest had on their emotional and  mental well-being. There is a need for increased support mechanisms during times of disruptions from universities across South Africa.  

Contribution: The findings highlight the ripple effects that disruptions, such as civil unrests, have on radiography students. This can  assist universities to relook at their institutional support structures, in order to enhance the current support given to students across  universities in times of disruptions. 

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848