Psychological distress reported by healthcare workers in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study

PLoS One. 2022 Jun 3;17(6):e0268976. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268976. eCollection 2022.


INTRODUCTION: Few studies have considered the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of healthcare workers (HCWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). We estimated the prevalence and severity of psychological distress and characterized predisposing risk factors among HCWs in KSA during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional online survey of 1,985 HCWs from 6 hospitals across the country designated with caring for COVID-19 patients between April 16 and June 21, 2020. Our data analysis was performed using logistic regressions. Ordered logistic regressions were also performed using forward stepwise model selection to explore the effects of risk factors on psychological distress.

RESULTS: The prevalence of psychological distress reported by HCWs in KSA was high, ranging from mild-moderate to severe in severity. Younger HCWs, women, those in contact with COVID-19 patients, and those who either had loved ones affected or who were themselves affected by COVID-19 were the most at-risk of psychological distress. Risk factors such as insomnia, loneliness, fear of transmission, and separation from loved ones most significantly predicted elevated levels of distress among HCWs.

CONCLUSIONS: Increasing psychological distress was commonly reported by HCWs during the early months of COVID-19 pandemic in KSA. Public health policy makers and mental health professionals must give special attention to risk factors that predispose HCWs in KSA to psychological distress.

PMID:35657938 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0268976