The Relationship between Religiosity and Psychological Distress among University Students during COVID-19 and Movement Control Order (MCO)
Keywords:COVID-19, MCO, religiosity, psychological distress, university students
The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the Malaysian government to initiate a Movement Control Order (MCO) that requires people to stay at home. All businesses have been shut down including private and public higher learning institutions. This pandemic and the MCO may add to the existing stress faced by university students as past studies have reported that psychological distress is prevalent among them. In addition, earlier studies associated low levels of psychological distress with high religiosity. In this regard, this study would like to investigate if there is any association between the degree of psychological distress reported by university students and their religiosity during the pandemic and the MCO. This study was conducted on a purposive sample of Malaysian Muslim undergraduate and postgraduate students (N = 257, Mage = 22.28, SD = 2.16) using the IIUM Religiosity Scale (IIUMRelS) and the General Health Questionnaires (GHQ-12). The results suggest higher average scores in religiosity and lower scores in psychological distress. Furthermore, there was a weak but statistically significant negative correlation between religiosity and psychological distress (r = -.286, p <0.01). These findings provide good suggestions for future studies to explore the predictive effect of religiosity on psychological distress as in this study both variables are associated.