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Psychological Distress Amongst Health Workers and the General Public During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Saudi Arabia

Authors Al-Hanawi MK, Mwale ML, Alshareef N, Qattan AMN, Angawi K, Almubark R, Alsharqi O

Received 22 May 2020

Accepted for publication 19 June 2020

Published 7 July 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 733—742


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Marco Carotenuto

Mohammed Khaled Al-Hanawi,1 Martin Limbikani Mwale,2 Noor Alshareef,1 Ameerah MN Qattan,1 Khadijah Angawi,1 Rasha Almubark,3,4 Omar Alsharqi1

1Department of Health Services and Hospital Administration, Faculty of Economics and Administration, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 80200, Saudi Arabia; 2Department of Economics, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa; 3Research and Studies Department, Saudi Food and Drug Authority, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 4Sharik Association for Health Research, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence: Mohammed Khaled Al-Hanawi
Department of Health Services and Hospital Administration, Faculty of Economics and Administration, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 80200, Saudi Arabia
Email [email protected]

Background: The rapid spread of COVID-19 worldwide has confined millions of people to their homes and has caused a substantial degree of psychological distress. This study aims to investigate the psychological distress impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among the Saudi population.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study, using data collected from 3036 participants via an online self-reported questionnaire. The psychological distress was constructed using the COVID-19 Peritraumatic Distress Index to classify individuals in the sample as having normal, mild or severe distress levels. The study used descriptive analysis and multinomial logistic regressions to examine the sociodemographic factors associated with psychological distress levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results: The evidence showed that 40% of the Saudi population are distressed due to COVID-19, of whom approximately 33% are mildly distressed, while 7% are severely distressed. The distress levels are particularly high amongst the young, females, private sector employees and health workers, especially those working on the frontline.
Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with increased distress amongst people living in Saudi Arabia. In support of evidence found in other countries, the study has established that the distress levels vary across different sociodemographic characteristics. Therefore, limiting people’s psychological damage demands both medium- and long-term policy strategies, which include mapping the rates of stress and anxiety for effective psychological treatment allocation and establishing innovative online methods of heightening people’s mental wellbeing.

Keywords: COVID-19, distress, health workers, psychological, public, Saudi Arabia

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