Exploring Hikikomori-like idiom of distress a year into the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Oman: factorial validity of the 25-item Hikikomori Questionnaire, prevalence and associated factors

Nasser Al-Sibani*, Moon Fai Chan, Salim Al-Huseini, Nutaila Al Kharusi, Gilles J. Guillemin, Mohammed Al-Abri, Aishwarya Ganesh, Yousuf Al Hasani, Samir Al-Adawi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background Existing literature that examines the Hikikomori-like idiom of distress (HLID) initially labelled this phenomenon as a culture-bound syndrome. However, the increasing number of reports from other parts of the world suggest that HLID could instead be a culture-reactive idiom of distress, originating from biopsychosocial disequilibrium and cultural upheaval. The impact of imposed social withdrawal due to the Coronavirus 2 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic on the growing prevalence of HLID has not yet been adequately explored. Aims: The first objective is to examine the factorial validity of the 25-item Hikikomori Questionnaire (HQ-25) in Oman. Second, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of HLID following the lifting of SARS-COV-2 restrictions in the Arabian Gulf country of Oman. The third related objective is to examine factors associated with the variation of HLID. Methods This cross-sectional online survey was widely distributed across the diverse socio-demographic population residing in Oman. After the validation of the questionnaire and the factorial validity, the Arabic version of HQ-25 was used to explore the prevalence and factors associated with HLID. Results A total of 1529 participants were included in the study (response rate = 76.5%), of whom 44% (n = 673) expressed HLID. We randomly split it into half, one for exploratory factor analysis (EFA) (n = 764) and the other half for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) (n = 765). From the EFA results, a three-factor model was found for the Omani version of HQ-25, which represented 52.87% of the variance with good internal reliability (Overall Cronbach’s: 0.92; Socialisation: 0.92; Isolation: 0.84; Emotional support: 0.73). The CFA results report acceptable goodness-of-fit indices (χ2/df = 17.92, p < .001; CFI = 0.90; TLI = 0.95; RMSEA = 0.04, 95% CI 0.02–0.07; SRMR = 0.05) of the three-factor model of the collected samples. All 1529 data were used in the respondents. The results of the logistic regression showed that married marital status (OR = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.12–2.03, p = 0.007), older age (OR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.95–0.99, p = 0.008), living in an urban area (OR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.56–0.91, p = 0.006), unemployed occupational status (OR = 1.72, 95% CI: 1.30–2.88, p < .001), screen time (7+ hours vs. <4 hours: OR = 4.50, 95% CI: 3.16–6.41, p < .001; 4–7 hours vs. <4 hours: OR = 2.10, 95% CI: 1.61–2.70, p < .001), history of mental illness (OR = 3.70, 95% CI: 2.29–5.91, p < .001), and adverse childhood experiences (OR = 2.60, 95% CI: 2.03–3.20, p < .001) were significant risk factors for HLID. Conclusion The factorial validity of the HQ-25 performed in this study appears to mirror the previously reported 3-factor structures. Some of the associated factors appear to support and, conversely, dissent from the findings of previous studies. These are discussed in terms of the attributions of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic, demographic trends in Oman, and sociocultural factors specific to the region of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0279612
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

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