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Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 79-85

Effect of 2019 coronavirus pandemic on ophthalmologists practicing in Saudi Arabia: A psychological health assessment

1 Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
3 Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Marwan A Abouammoh
Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P. O. Box 245, Riyadh 11411
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/meajo.MEAJO_220_20

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PURPOSE: To assess the psychological impact and mental health outcomes including depression, anxiety, and insomnia during COVID-19 crisis among ophthalmologists. METHODS: This was a simple random study in which ophthalmologists practicing in Saudi Arabia were asked to fill in a self-administered online survey during the period from March 28, 2020, to April 04, 2020. Four validated psychiatric assessment tools were used to detect symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and stress perception. RESULTS: One hundred and seven participants successfully completed the survey with a response rate of 30.6%. Males constituted 56.1% (n = 60). Ophthalmology residents constituted the majority (n = 66, 61.7%). About half of the physicians exhibited symptoms of depression (n = 56, 50.5%), anxiety (n = 50, 46.7%), and insomnia (n = 48, 44.9%). Symptoms of stress ranged between low (28%), moderate (68.2%), and high (3.7%). According to the cutoff values for severe symptoms, 29% were identified as having depression, 38.3% had anxiety, and 15% had insomnia.Depression was found to be more common among female ophthalmologists (P = 0.06), those living with an elderly (P = 0.003), and fellows (P = 0.006). Female ophthalmologists suffering from anxiety were significantly more than male ophthalmologists (P = 0.046). There was a trend toward suffering from anxiety in frontline health-care providers (P = 0.139) and in ophthalmologists who are living with an elderly (P = 0.149). Female participants exhibited significantly more moderate-to-high symptoms of stress (P = 0.018). CONCLUSIONS: Ophthalmologists' psychological needs, females in particular, should be addressed appropriately during the COVID-19 pandemic. Establishing psychological support units, especially for high-risk individuals, should be considered to minimize psychological adverse effects.

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