Distress symptoms during the COVID-19 lockdown: A study with the general population of the United Arab Emirates

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COVID-19 pandemic, Distress symptoms, Online learning, Mental health, United Arab Emirates


Background: Since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has taken a series of preventive measures to control the spread of the Coronavirus. Dealing with the unforeseen challenges caused by the pandemic has had a profound impact on people all around the world. Pharmacists played an important public health role during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were the first point of contact with the public and the first source of information, providing accurate and reliable management and preventive measures. The aim of this study was to analyse the distress symptoms and the associated factors among a sample of the UAE population. Materials and Methods: This was an observational cross-sectional study conducted over the period of September to October 2020. A bilingual online self-administered questionnaire was distributed among individuals aged 15 years and above. Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Results: Most of the students in the sample found online learning less effective than in-class learning. Among these, 49.9% and 62.8 % reported that they had normal sleep and eating habits, respectively. In all the sample, most of the participants (96%) were adherent to preventive measures. Higher levels of distress during the COVID-19 lockdown were found among females, individuals younger than 35 years old, those who neglected personal hygiene and who had worse quality of family gatherings and relationships. Conclusion: This study identified factors associated with distress symptoms experienced by people during the lockdown and perceived attitudes regarding online learning, preventive measures and changes in people’s behaviours and family environment. Knowledge about how lockdown has affected the lives of the populations can be used to design public health interventions aimed at promoting the health and well-being of the communities.

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