Burnout and financial stress among common concerns for UAE residents, study shows

Cost of living and family finances raising stress levels across the world

Stress in the UAE remains high at 89 per cent, with 99 per cent of residents reporting at least one burnout symptom. PA
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The cost-of-living crisis, risk of burnout and financial stress are common concerns among UAE residents, a survey has revealed.

The Cigna Healthcare Vitality Study surveyed 10,800 people living in the UAE, US, UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore and the Hong Kong SAR in May and June last year, asking 35 key questions on health and well-being.

The survey aimed to gauge perception of working life, finances, physical and emotional health, spirituality and intellectual capacity encompassed in an overall vitality score.

Results showed the UAE scored higher than anywhere else, with a third of people reporting "high" vitality, more than double the average number of 17 per cent reported globally.

However, while 61 per cent of people in the UAE said they embraced working in an office environment, burnout, financial stress and the cost of living were common concerns.

The study not only showcases the UAE's health achievements but also underscores the need for continuous improvement in stress management and mental health support
Dr Shady Habboush, cardiologist at Saudi German Hospital, Dubai

“The Vitality index is really the most comprehensive indicator for us in terms of reflecting on both physical health but also the broader terms of health care,” said Jerome Droesch of Cigna Healthcare.

“It covers both the personal domain and the workplace as well, so it’s a very holistic dimension.

“It's important to acknowledge the UAE is once again in the top three countries leading the world significantly above the average, and significantly above developed markets in Europe.”

The value of learning

The study was based on the Evernorth Vitality Index, developed in partnership with leading clinical psychologist Dr Richard Ryan using his Self-Determination Theory and Subjective Vitality Scales (SVS).

The index measures eight dimensions of well-being as well as three components of the SVS.

While 32 per cent of UAE respondents reported high vitality levels, a 7 per cent decrease from the previous study, women showed marginally higher vitality than men.

Millennials aged 25-44 were the highest-scoring generation for overall vitality.

Intellectual and emotional well-being were prioritised among UAE respondents, with 71 per cent valuing learning new things and 65 per cent looking forward to each new day. Environmental and social health are also key, with 63 per cent feeling connected to safe, welcoming places and capable of building meaningful relationships.

However, stress in the UAE remained high at 89 per cent, with 99 per cent of respondents experiencing at least one burnout symptom.

Of those surveyed, 89 per cent said they felt "always on", while 32 per cent said they worked regularly outside of normal hours, down from 46 per cent of people in 2022.

The study found the cost-of-living crisis was the leading cause of stress (45 per cent), followed by personal and family financial concerns.

The survey found an improvement in work-related stress, with 61 per cent working full-time in the office and others in hybrid arrangements.

“We've all observed the cost-of-living crisis in terms of inflation that is rising across the world, including real estate rental costs,” said Mr Droesch.

“Burnout is people in a severe situation where they cannot work any more or need treatment or medication.

“It can be sleep disruption, depression or becoming more emotional.”

Demand for mental health support to address symptoms of burnout have soared in recent years.

Mental health support

In the UAE, the number of in-patient admissions for mental health issues increased from 12.09 for every 100,000 people in 2017, to 71.65 for every 100,000 in 2020.

Since then more employers have stepped up to offer in-house support services, while more health insurers are also offering mental health treatment.

Dr Shady Habboush, a consultant cardiologist at Saudi German Hospital in Dubai, said the Cigna survey showed there was a clear holistic approach towards health in the UAE.

“The Cigna Healthcare Vitality Study tells us intellectual and emotional well-being are being prioritised, with a significant majority valuing learning and looking forward to each new day,” he said.

Dr Habboush, however, said the report also highlighted challenges such as high stress levels and burnout symptoms, emphasising areas that need attention.

“The study not only showcases the UAE's health achievements but also underscores the need for continuous improvement in stress management and mental health support," he added.

Updated: February 02, 2024, 3:00 AM