Tahir MJ, Malik NI, Ullah I, Khan HR, Perveen S, Ramalho R, Siddiqi AR, Waheed S, Shalaby MMM, De Berardis D, Jain S, Vetrivendan GL, Chatterjee H, Gopar Franco WX, Shafiq MA, Fatima NT, Abeysekera M, Sayyeda Q, Shamat SF, Aiman W, Akhtar Q, Devi A, Aftab A, Shoib S, Lin CY, Pakpour AH
PLoS One 16 (11) e0259594 [2021-11-05; online 2021-11-05]
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many people, including medical students. The present study explored internet addiction and changes in sleep patterns among medical students during the pandemic and assessed the relationship between them. A cross-sectional study was carried out in seven countries, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guyana, India, Mexico, Pakistan, and Sudan, using a convenience sampling technique, an online survey comprising demographic details, information regarding COVID-19, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Internet Addiction Test (IAT). In total, 2749 participants completed the questionnaire. Of the total, 67.6% scored above 30 in the IAT, suggesting the presence of an Internet addiction, and 73.5% scored equal and above 5 in the PSQI, suggesting poor sleep quality. Internet addiction was found to be significant predictors of poor sleep quality, causing 13.2% of the variance in poor sleep quality. Participants who reported COVID-19 related symptoms had disturbed sleep and higher internet addiction levels when compared with those who did not. Participants who reported a diagnosis of COVID-19 reported poor sleep quality. Those living with a COVID-19 diagnosed patient reported higher internet addiction and worse sleep quality compared with those who did not have any COVID-19 patients in their surroundings. The results of this study suggest that internet addiction and poor sleep quality are two issues that require addressing amongst medical students. Medical training institutions should do their best to minimize their negative impact, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic.