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Seafarers’ Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19: Lessons Learned †

Public Health, Centre of Maritime Health and Society, University of Southern Denmark, DK-6705 Esbjerg, Denmark
Department of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Hippokration Hospital Athens, 115 27 Athina, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Public Health Congress on Maritime Transport and Ports 2022: Sailing to the post-COVID-19 era, Athens, Greece, 21–22 October 2022.
Med. Sci. Forum 2022, 13(1), 28;
Published: 19 December 2022


The maritime industry has long been a significant mode of transportation. It is essential since it contributes to 80% of the global trade. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the maritime sector and its workforce. Many countries implemented strict prevention measures like the No Sail Order, the closing of ports and movement restrictions. The study explored the potential effects of the COVID-19 restrictions on the health and well-being of seafarers with an aim to offer insight for policy recommendations. The study was cross-sectional. It took place during the period January–April 2021. The questionnaire developed by Stella Maris was used with permission. It was distributed to shipping companies and work unions and, through them, to seafarers. The sample was 106 individuals. The study features the findings of the questionnaire which were analyzed by descriptive and inferential statistics. SPSS was used for the analysis. Chi-square test and Fisher’s exact test were performed. Logistic regression was used to assess the impact of COVID-19 on physical, mental and financial aspects of seafarers’ lives. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed using the forward (conditional) stepwise regression method with probability for stepwise entry set at 10%. Statistical significance was considered at p < 0.05. Seafarers were affected physically (38%), mentally (53%), and financially (40%) by the pandemic. The country of origin, the time onboard and the number of supportive family members had an influence on those effects. Among the participants, those who worked on tankers and officers with more than three family members were more likely to face mental, physical or financial problems. In addition, the study showed that only 24.5% of the respondents were on regular contracts, 16% had their contracts extended, 14.2% were about to be deployed but were grounded due to the pandemic, while about half of the sample 41.5% was waiting for a new contract. The results of this study may be used as a starting point by International Organisations including IMO and ILO, flag states, ports and the industry to increase emergency preparedness and to inform outbreak response plans in the event of future infectious disease outbreaks in the shipping domain.

Author Contributions

M.K.: Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing—Original Draft, Data Curation. D.A.B.: Conceptualisation, Methodology, Resources, Validation: G.C.: Validation, Visualization. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

This study was approved by the University of Southern Denmark.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Data availability subject to GDPR rules of the University of Southern Denmark.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kanaki, M.; Bygvraa, D.A.; Charalambous, G. Seafarers’ Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19: Lessons Learned. Med. Sci. Forum 2022, 13, 28.

AMA Style

Kanaki M, Bygvraa DA, Charalambous G. Seafarers’ Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19: Lessons Learned. Medical Sciences Forum. 2022; 13(1):28.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kanaki, Margarita, Despoina Andrioti Bygvraa, and George Charalambous. 2022. "Seafarers’ Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19: Lessons Learned" Medical Sciences Forum 13, no. 1: 28.

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