Psychological Well-Being and Depression Symptoms Among Emergency Departments’ Medical Staff of Gaza Governmental Hospitals

Osama Mohammed Hammad Abdou
اسامة محمد حماد عبدو
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Al-Quds University
The psychological well-being of emergency medical staff working in general hospitals is a public health concern locally and internationally. Emergency departments in Gaza serve in a complex context with an overstressed health system that was weakened through the repetitive rounds of violence for the last 15 years. Socio-cultural attitudes towards emergency medical services in Gaza general hospitals continue to be a source of overload and pressure upon emergency medical teams who are expected to resume their roles with high quality continuously despite the severe shortages in tools, equipment, technical support, and human resources. This study, therefore, aimed to determine the level of psychological well-being and depressive symptoms among emergency medical staff in Gaza General Hospitals. Methodology: The design of this study is mixed-method and was conducted among emergency medical staff at governmental hospitals in Gaza using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Warwick Psychological Well-being Scale (WPWS). Besides, three focus group interviews were conducted among emergency medical staff from 3 major hospitals representing North, Middle, and South Governorates in the Gaza Strip. Results: A total of 202 emergency medical staff participated in the study and filled the study questionnaires. 54.5% of the participants reported high psychological well-being, 43% indicated moderate psychological well-being. More than two-thirds (72.3%) of study participants indicated not having depressive symptoms, 18.3% had mild depressive symptoms, 7.4% had moderate depressive symptoms and 2% had severe depression, added to that, 0.5% of participants had moderate depressive symptoms and Low Psychological well-being. Study results also found a statistically significant inverse relationship between psychological well-being and depressive symptoms, where an increase by 1 point on the psychological well-being scale leads to a decrease of 0.5 in depressive symptoms. Demographic variables including gender, age, academic degrees, place of residence, duty station, and years of experience were not found statistically significant in our sample for psychological well-being. For the qualitative part, most staff indicated that they feel good about their mental well-being and feel that they have the skills to cope with stressful working conditions as they have accumulated experience throughout their years of work, however, they reported high stress levels in their work environment in the emergency departments. Conclusion: Emergency medical staff working at Gaza Governmental Hospitals screened showed high levels of psychological well-being and low depressive symptoms, despite lacking governmental preventive actions to ensure good psychological health among emergency medical staff. Besides, urgent action should be taken by public health decision-makers towards the design and promotion of specialized mental health and psychosocial support services targeting those 10% of emergency medical staff who showed moderate-severe degrees of depressive symptoms. Keywords: Psychological Well-being; Depression Symptoms, medical staff, emergency department, Gaza strip