Xjenza Online Vol. 8 Iss. 2



Xjenza Online Vol. 8 Iss. 2 ISSUE: Xjenza Online Vol. 8 Iss. 2


Keeping up the Hope

Mask-wearing during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Maltese context: attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and behaviour.
Gillian Martin, Maria Desira, Christina Zarb
Pages: 48 - 59
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The efficacy of any public health campaign is impacted in important ways by the level of public understanding and cooperation. The measures put in place to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus in Malta have had important influence on societal relations, with the use of face coverings arguably having the most impact. The aim of our study was to empirically explore the lived experience of wearing a mask - the perceptions, beliefs and attitudes related to the use of face- coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Maltese Islands. A mixed methods research design was used to collect data via an online survey with a convenience, non-probability sample made up of 990 respondents. Quantitative data were collected via closed ended questions supplemented by qualitative data in open text boxes. Our data, collected before the wearing of face coverings was mandatory in all public places, showed how the vast majority of participants chose to wear them, with the predominant choice being facemasks. The vast majority of respondents claimed that the wearing of face masks while interacting in public spaces (both indoor and outdoor) leads to a sense of security, with increased sense of confidence in public safety measures. Data on beliefs and knowledge are significantly associated with level of education and include the mistaken belief that a visor offers as much protection as a facemask, and that wearing a facemask reduces the amount of oxygen available to breathe. Qualitative data highlighted challenges linked to communication, heat, discomfort, anxiety about lack of oxygen, and finding it harder to breathe, besides issues related to condensation on spectacles. The negative impact at work was also flagged, with increased level of irritability, reduced levels of concentration and reduced quality of service described in the data. Though compliance to public health directives was clearly dominant within our sample, the particular challenges highlighted within the study identify areas of potential breakdown of safe practices where focused science communication on a national level would be beneficial.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2020.2.01
The control of developmental global gene expression
Praveena Anilal, Jean Calleja Agius, Alex Felice
Pages: 60 - 66
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The complex interplay of a myriad of protein factors in embryonic development
encapsulates the importance of accuracy in the control of gene expression,
regulation and physical factors including cell-environment contact. C. elegans has
an extremely similar gene interplay and hence its study has paved way a greater
understanding. This review will explore cell lineage specification, mutual regulation,
the consequences of mutations, and how gene regulatory networks utilise spatiotemporal triggers.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2020.2.02
The Effectiveness of tooth whitening products in the Maltese market - A Clinical Study
Emad Eddin Alzoubi, Fares Elgaroushi, Ikechi McBerry, Gabriella Gatt, Nikolai Attard
Pages: 67 - 78
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Background: Tooth whitening has gained popularity in recent years, with many products emerging on the market. Aim: To assess the effectiveness of different tooth whitening products, highlight any undesirable effects of whitening on the oral soft tissues, and evaluate if tooth whitening can serve as a motivational tool for patients to improve their oral hygiene. Method: 127 participants were invited to join the study and 77 were enrolled in the study according to the selection criteria. They were randomly divided into 8 groups, each group receiving a different tooth-bleaching product. Data collection was performed at 4 different time-points. Results: 39% of participants were excluded due to suboptimal oral health, thus emphasizing the need for a routine check-up before treatment. Only professional tooth whitening provided by dental professionals showed significant tooth shade improvements (Kruskal–Wallis tests p < 0.05). Tooth whitening had no significant impact on oral soft tissues (Kruskal–Wallis test p > 0.05). Tooth whitening can serve as a motivating tool to improve patients’ oral health. Conclusions: Tooth whitening procedures should be carried out by dental professionals. Only non-over the counter (OTC) products showed significant colorimetric shade improvement. Whitening treatment had no significant impact on oral soft tissues. The achieved tooth whitening directly improved oral health.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2020.2.03