Background: The current pandemic of COVID-19 impacted the psychological wellbeing of populations globally. Objectives: We aimed to examine the extent and identify factors associated with psychological distress, fear of COVID-19 and coping. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study across 17 countries during Jun-2020 to Jan-2021. Levels of psychological distress (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale), fear of COVID-19 (Fear of COVID-19 Scale), and coping (Brief Resilient Coping Scale) were assessed. Results: A total of 8,559 people participated; mean age (±SD) was 33(±13) years, 64% were females and 40% self-identified as frontline workers. More than two-thirds (69%) experienced moderate-to-very high levels of psychological distress, which was 46% in Thailand and 91% in Egypt. A quarter (24%) had high levels of fear of COVID-19, which was as low as 9% in Libya and as high as 38% in Bangladesh. More than half (57%) exhibited medium to high resilient coping; the lowest prevalence (3%) was reported in Australia and the highest (72%) in Syria. Being female (AOR 1.31 [95% CIs 1.09-1.57]), perceived distress due to change of employment status (1.56 [1.29-1.90]), comorbidity with mental health conditions (3.02 [1.20-7.60]) were associated with higher levels of psychological distress and fear. Doctors had higher psychological distress (1.43 [1.04-1.97]), but low levels of fear of COVID-19 (0.55 [0.41-0.76]); nurses had medium to high resilient coping (1.30 [1.03-1.65]). Conclusions: The extent of psychological distress, fear of COVID-19 and coping varied by country; however, we identified few higher risk groups who were more vulnerable than others. There is an urgent need to prioritise health and well-being of those people through well-designed intervention that may need to be tailored to meet country specific requirements.
- mental health
- psychological distress