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CMENAS Colloquium Series. Panic, Pestilence and Religious Coping; Public Health and Pandemics across the MENA: A psychological Perspective on Arab Countries

Justin Thomas, Professor and Chair of Psychology at Zayed University; Ibrahim Aref Kira, Managing Director of Center for Cumulative Trauma Studies and affiliate of The Center of Stress, Trauma and Resiliency, Georgia State University
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
2:00-4:00 PM
The 2021 CMENAS Colloquium Series theme is "Public Health and Pandemics across the MENA: A Multidisciplinary Exhibit."

Please register to attend at

About the Presentations:

Panic, Pestilence and Religious Coping
Positive religious coping has frequently been associated with better mental health outcomes when dealing with stressful life events (e.g., natural disasters, domestic abuse, divorce). The COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated infection prevention and control measures (curfew, quarantine, restricted travel, social distancing), represent a society-wide stressor. This presentation will explored positive religious coping in general with a particular focus on Muslims. It will look at research examining responses to the early stages of the pandemic among religious and secular communities. We will argue that among some religious communities, positive religious coping was inversely related to the development of psychopathology during the pandemic. We conclude that positive (but not negative) religious coping during infectious disease outbreaks may help some individuals reduce their risk of mental health problems. National pandemic preparedness plans may benefit from including a focus on religion and religious coping

Public Health and Pandemics across the MENA: A psychological Perspective on Arab Countries
COVID-19 pandemic’s mental health impact on Arab countries is under-researched. The goal of this presentation is to share the results of two studies conducted longitudinally in Arab countries. The first study was conducted on 7 Arab countries (N=1743; conducted from 4/28/2020 to 5/25/2020.), and the second on 11 Arab countries (N=2734; conducted from January to March 2021, 10 months after the first study). A questionnaire including measures of COVID-19 traumatic stress, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and cumulative stressors and trauma was distributed anonymously online, both times. ANOVA results indicated significant differences in COVID19 traumatic stress, PTSD, depression, and anxiety between the countries. Post-hoc analysis indicated that Egypt is significantly higher than all the other Arab countries in COVID-19 traumatic stress, PTSD, anxiety, and depression due, at least in part, to higher density, lower socioeconomic status, and the actual higher rates of infection. The subsample from Palestine and Iraq had a significantly higher cumulative trauma load than the other Arab countries but did not have higher levels of COVID-19 traumatic stress or PTSD. Hierarchical regression indicated that COVID-19 traumatic stress accounted for significant variance above and beyond the variance accounted for by previous cumulative stressors and traumas. In the second study, which was conducted ten months later, we found that the level of infection skyrocketed; however, the level of PTSD, depression and anxiety were almost stable or slightly decreased. The level of COVID-19 stressors slightly decreased, but Egypt still had the highest COVID-19 stressors. The results reflect increased adjustment over time, even with increased infection and mortality.

About the Speakers:

Justin Thomas is professor of experimental psychology with an interest in the interface between culture, religion and psychopathology/wellbeing

Ibrahim A. Kira, PhD, is the director of Center for Cumulative Trauma Studies, Stone, GA, & affiliate of Center for Stress, Trauma and Resiliency, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. His research interest focuses on the dynamics of cumulative stressors/traumas and Stressors/traumas proliferation. He is the lead developer of the developmentally based trauma framework (DBTF) that focuses on the conceptual development and empirical validation of a novel conceptual paradigm of the dynamics of stressors/ traumas, especially in multiply traumatized populations. He is the first author of over 85 articles and chapter books on the subject.

The following text will be included on all II events unless you indicate otherwise:If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact Kristin Waterbury at

Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: center for middle eastern and north african studies, Cmenas Colloquium Series, Discussion, Lecture, Middle East Studies, Virtual
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, International Institute, Department of Political Science