Psychological distress among essential and non-essential service workers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A cross-sectional online survey (n = 177) was undertaken between May and August 2020, when the first Movement Control Order in Malaysia (March–May 2020) was gradually lifted. The survey aims to determine levels of psychological distress among the Malaysian workforce during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The rates of depression and anxiety were reported to be 14.1% and 12.4%, respectively, across both essential and non-essential services. Whilst somewhat elevated across the sample, contrary to initial prediction, the incidence of psychological distress was not found to be higher among those in essential service roles. Utilising log-linked gamma generalised linear model analyses, concerns of uncertainty about how the pandemic threat will continue were found to predict both depression (B = 0.114, p < 0.01) and anxiety (B = 0.1, p < 0.01) symptoms across the workforce. Moreover, reporting having contact with individuals confirmed to be contagious for work purposes (B = 0.093, p < 0.05) and lack of time for family (B = 0.053, p < 0.05) were also found to predict anxiety symptoms. These findings are discussed, and suggestions made on how they might inform targeted public mental health messaging, staff management, and a range of psychological interventions. Limitations of the study and directions for future research are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOVID-19 and Psychology in Malaysia
Subtitle of host publicationPsychosocial Effects, Coping, and Resilience
EditorsD. Gerard Joseph Louis, Surinderpal Kaur, Huey Fen Cheong
ISBN (Electronic)9781003178576
ISBN (Print)9781032014258
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological distress among essential and non-essential service workers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this