In 2020, Lebanon has witnessed its worst economic crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a massive explosion of its capital. Amidst these stressors, this study aims at assessing the prevalence of depression, anxiety, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cognitive impairment in patients undergoing hemodialysis in an academic hospital destroyed by the explosion.
This cross-sectional study conducted 6 months after the blast included adults on hemodialysis, with no previous diagnoses of dementia or intellectual disability. It explores prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders, in addition to other medical and psychosocial variables such as frailty, malnutrition, sarcopenia, quality of life and religiosity.
Forty two patients (mean age 66.1; SD: 11.2 years) undergoing hemodialysis for 6.12 years (SD:7.22 years) were included. Anxiety and depression rates reached 54.8% and 57.1% using cut-offs of 6 and 7 respectively on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression rating Scale. 9.5% of the patients reported being in the hospital at the time of the blast and 7.1% reported being injured. 33.3% screened positively for PTSD using a cut-off of 23 on the PCL-5. 26.2% had passive death wishes and 7.1% had suicide plans, however no one had attempted it. 23.8% were found cognitively impaired as shown by the Mini-Cog (<3). Around two-third of participants were moderately to severely malnourished per the GLIM criteria. One third suffered from frailty, according to the FRAIL screening tool. Around 60% suffered from sarcopenia, based on handgrip strength measures. These findings contrast with “acceptable to good” quality of life subjectively reported by participants on the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey. While one-third of participants participated in organizational religious activities, 88% reported significant subjective meaning of religion in their heart.
Rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidality, and cognitive impairment were found to be alarming in the setting of an urban dialysis unit following a major explosion. Psychiatric disorders were found to be compounded with increased prevalence of malnutrition, frailty, and sarcopenia. These findings urge healthcare providers to implement early diagnostic and intervention strategies to improve both mental and physical wellbeing of this vulnerable population, in similar settings.