Study reveals psychological toll of COVID-19 on Saudis

Women showed higher levels of anxiety and depression than men during COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 September 2020

Study reveals psychological toll of COVID-19 on Saudis

  • Study surveyed people under quarantine, students and health care workers
  • Women showed higher levels of anxiety and depression than men

RIYADH: Research conducted in Saudi Arabia on the psychological effects of the global lockdown caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) shows that symptoms of depression and anxiety ranging from mild to severe, particularly in women, are commonplace.

Dr. Deemah Alateeq, assistant professor of psychiatry at Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, conducted the study in March when the first cases of COVID-19 were detected and the country went into lockdown.

“The main objective is to assess the psychological well being of different samples of Saudi people during the pandemic,” said Alateeq. “There were three different samples; the first was health care providers working during the pandemic, in the Saudi centers of COVID-19, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health (MoH).

“The other samples were people under quarantine in multiple hotels in March during the beginning of the pandemic, under the supervision of the MoH, and students from different levels — intermediate schools, secondary schools and university students.”




Dr. Deemah Alateeq, assistant professor of psychiatry at Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, conducted the study in March. (Supplied)

The findings of the research showed levels of depression and anxiety were prevalent among health care providers and also among the people under quarantine. More than half of the subjects for the research had symptoms of depression and anxiety ranging from mild to severe.

The students, meanwhile, expressed moderate to high levels of stress during the pandemic.

Alateeq also said in all the three samples, women had higher level of anxiety, depression and distress than men.

“This could be due to multiple reasons: The biological differences, (such as) fluctuation of the estrogen hormone, and also it could be because females usually tend to express their emotions more than males,” said Alateeq.

The findings also showed that nurses reported higher levels of anxiety and depression compared to other health care providers, such as physicians, pharmacists and administrators working during the pandemic.




Women showed higher levels of anxiety and depression than men during COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)

“I think this is due to the high demand on their work compared to others,” said Alateeq. “It was also interesting that one of the findings was that university students have a higher level of anxiety and depression compared to high school and intermediate school students.”

Among the people in quarantine and among health care providers, younger adults showed higher levels of depression and anxiety compared to older adults.

Alateeq was surprised to receive a lot of positive responses from health care providers.

“They were proud of themselves, and they report they feel that it is a great opportunity to serve their country,” she said. “A lot of health care providers reported workplace-centered needs, which were financial support, psychological support and also physical support at the workplace itself.”

Alateeq said there were similarities in her findings to research conducted in other countries during the pandemic. “It was interesting that we have similar findings compared to Italy or China, or even the UK, but there were lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to other countries in the Arab world,” she added.

Decoder


Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

Updated 23 October 2020

Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

JEDDAH: Six international organizations have completed two studies on e-learning in the Kingdom and praised its efforts in providing a rapid response, multiple options and continuous improvement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The studies involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.
The center said that the global organizations completed two comprehensive studies on the experience of public and higher education in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, with the aim of documenting and studying the reality of the experience and coming up with initiatives to develop e-learning practices in accordance with current global practices and standards.
The studies were conducted with the participation of students, faculty members, teachers, parents and school leaders.
The number of participants in the public education study reached 318,000, while the number of participants in the higher education study reached 24,000.
The first study was prepared by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), with the participation of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Quality Matters (QM), the UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in Education (IITE), the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) in the US.
The second study was prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the cooperation of the Harvard Graduate School
of Education.
In the studies, reference comparisons were made with more than 193 countries. The two studies showed the Kingdom’s distinction in the diversity of options, including, for example, electronic content and satellite channels available for e-learning in public education.

NUMBER

342k

The studies on e-learning involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.

The percentage of countries that succeeded in providing these at the national level was only 38 percent.
The study conducted by the OECD and the Harvard Graduate School of Education included a comparison of the Kingdom’s response to education during the COVID-19 pandemic with 37 member states.
The results showed the Kingdom’s progress in 13 out of 16 indicators on the average of
these countries.
The study also revealed that teachers received significant support to overcome obstacles to e-learning.
The study of public education indicated that there was a clear strategy for the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in the Kingdom and address any issues.
OLC hailed the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Education in dealing with the crisis by providing a variety of options for e-learning, and the quick response to the pandemic and immediate shift to remote instruction.
The two studies recommended 71 proposed development initiatives for public education and 78 proposed development initiatives for higher education.
The National Center for e-Learning is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education to present the initiatives and begin their implementation.
The center announced that the organizations that conducted the studies would publish their results and complete the second phase at the end of the current semester.