Health and wellbeing of staff working at higher education institutions globally during the post-COVID-19 pandemic period: Evidence from a cross-sectional study

Muhammad Aziz Rahman*, Pritimoy Das, Louisa Lam, Sheikh M Alif, Farhana Sultana, Masudus Salehin, Biswajit Banik, Bindu Joseph, Parul Parul, Andrew Lewis, Dixie Statham, Joanne Porter, Kim Foster, Sheikh Mohammed Shariful Islam, Wendy Cross, Alycia Jacob, Susan Hua, Qun Wang, Sek Ying Chair, Wai Tong ChienSri Widati, Ira Nurmala, Ni Nyoman Tri Puspaningsih, Majeda Hammoud, Khatijah Omar, Muhammad Abi Sofian Abdul Halim, Mohammed Gamal-Eltrabily, Georgina Ortiz, Turkiya Saleh Al Maskari, Salwa Saleh Mohammed Al Alawi, Badriya Saleh Al-Rahbi, Judie Arulappan, Akhlaq Ahmad, Nahed Al Laham, Ilias Mahmud, Ibrahim Alasqah, Habib Noorbhai, Shao-Liang Chang, Yi-Lung Chen, Mehmet Fatih Comlekci, Oguz Basol, Basema Saddik, Rick Hayman, Remco C. J. Polman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The ongoing global crisis of Higher Education (HE) institutions during the post-COVID-19 pandemic period has increased the likelihood of enduring psychological stressors for staff. This study aimed to identify factors associated with job insecurity, burnout, psychological distress and coping amongst staff working at HE institutions globally.
Methods: An anonymous cross-sectional study was conducted in 2023 with staff at HE institutions across 16 countries. Job insecurity was measured using the Job Insecurity Scale (JIS), burnout using the Perceived Burnout measure question, psychological distress using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), and coping using the Brief Resilient Coping Scale. Multivariable logistic regression with a stepwise variable selection method was used to identify associations.
Results: A total of 2,353 staff participated; the mean age (±SD) was 43(±10) years and 61% were females. Most staff (85%) did not feel job insecurity, one-third (29%) perceived burnout in their jobs, more than two-thirds (73%) experienced moderate to very high levels of psychological distress, and more than half (58%) exhibited medium to high resilient coping. Perceived job insecurity was associated with staff working part-time [Adjusted Odds Ratio 1.53 (95% Confidence Intervals 1.15-2.02)], having an academic appointment [2.45 (1.78-3.27)], having multiple co-morbidities [1.86 (1.41-2.48)], perceived burnout [1.99 (1.54-2.56)] and moderate to very high level of psychological distress [1.68 (1.18-2.39)]. Perceived burnout was associated with being female [1.35 (1.12-1.63)], having multiple co-morbidities [1.53 (1.20-1.97)], perceived job insecurity [1.99 (1.55-2.57)], and moderate to very high levels of psychological distress [3.23 (2.42-4.30)]. Staff with multiple co-morbidities [1.46 (1.11-1.92)], mental health issues [2.73 (1.79-4.15)], perceived job insecurity [1.61 (1.13-2.30)], and perceived burnout [3.22 (2.41-4.31)] were associated with moderate to very high levels of psychological distress. Staff who perceived their mental health as good to excellent [3.36 (2.69-4.19)] were more likely to have medium to high resilient coping.
Conclusions: Factors identified in this study should be considered in reviewing and updating current support strategies for staff at HE institutions across all countries to reduce stress and burnout and improve wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1848
Number of pages29
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2024

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