Psychosocial Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic in Libya: A Cross-Sectional Study



Jahan AM, Mohamed M, Alfagieh M, Alnawy N, Alsabiri M, Algazal R, Saaleh R, El Swisy S, Abbas O, Al Delawi W, Abdulhafith B, Almangoush O, Elhag F, Elshukri A, Abushaala W, Shahrani T, Tnton A, Alkilani H, Dier A.


Front Psychol. 2021 Aug 17;12:714749. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.714749. 2021.


Background: Since the outbreak of COVID-19 were announced in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread in most countries. After one year of restrictive measures applied by governments, it is unclear how this prolonged social distancing has affected the mental health of individuals in Libya. Therefore, the present study aims to assess the levels of perceived stress, depression, sleep disturbance, and self-efficacy associated with the pandemic in Libya and their association with the demographic factors. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between October 10 and November 10, 2020 in 21 cities in Libya using an online survey. The survey collected socio-demographic variables and other important psychological variables using valid scales: namely, the Perceived Stress scale, the PROMIS Depression scale, the PROMIS Sleep Disturbance scale, and self-efficacy 6-item scale. Additionally, data were collected regarding eating and smoking habits, housing and living situations, and the preparedness of the public to manage the upcoming waves of the pandemic. Results: The questionnaire was accessed 746 times, and a total of 683 completed questionnaires were analyzed (response rate of 91.6%), with ages ranging from 18 to 94 years (Mean ± SD = 27.09 ± 10.57). Among the respondents, 58.4% were females and 77% were from the age group 18-29 years. The perceived stress, depression, and sleep disturbance symptoms were high in overall population. For stress, 52.7 and 17.1% of respondents reported moderate and high stress, and for sleep quality 28.8 and 8.1% reported moderate and high sleep disturbance, respectively. For depression, the overall median score was 20 (out of 40). The perceived stress, depression, and sleep disturbance were more prevalent among females and the younger age groups (18-29 years old). The overall self-efficacy median total score was 6.67 (out of 10), with a significantly higher median total score for males than females (7 vs. 6.33, p = 0.001). About 14.5% of the respondents were regular cigarette smokers, and most of them (79.8%) described their smoking habits during the previous month as more than typical. In addition, the reported eating habits of almost half of the respondents (43%) had changed, with about one-third (29.6%) reporting that their eating habits had become less healthy during the pandemic. Conclusion: The findings of this research suggest increased levels of stress, depression, and sleep disturbances as well as COVID-19-related fear during the pandemic, especially among young females. This alarming finding urgently calls for safe and low-barrier interventions to help mentally burdened individuals. This study makes a significant contribution in providing essential data on the psychological and social impacts on the Libyan population due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CI – Copyright © 2021 Jahan, Mohamed, Alfagieh, Alnawy, Alsabiri, Algazal, Saaleh, El Swisy, Abbas, Al Delawi, Abdulhafith, Almangoush, Elhag, Elshukri, Abushaala, Shahrani, Tnton, Alkilani and Dier.

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Link/DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.714749