Psychological Distress of University Workers during COVID-19 Pandemic in Brazil

Fernanda Barcellos Serralta, Murilo Ricardo Zibetti, Chris Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study aimed to explore mental distress during COVID-19 quarantine in a sample of university workers in Brazil. The survey included sets of questions about demographics, health, and support, an open question about major concerns, and the Clinical Outcome Routine Evaluation (CORE-OM), a measure of mental distress. A total of 407 professionals, mean age 40, SD 11.2, fulfilling social distancing (99%) participated in the study. Participants were mostly female (67.8%) and married (64.8%). Using the Consensual Qualitative Research process for simple qualitative data (CQR-M), the main areas of concern were grouped into six domains, as follows: work, health, isolation, personal life and routine, social environment, and future. Many responses were multiple. They form categories indicating specific concerns within these domains. Quantitative data were analyzed by identifying the simple effects of potential predictors of mental distress. The results indicated medium effects of help with household chores (η 2 = 0.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) (0.022-0.095)), psychiatric treatment (η 2 = 0.06, CI (0.030-0.110)), age (η 2 = 0.12, CI (0.070-0.170)), and physical exercise (η 2 = 0.12, CI (0.079-0.180)). Having someone available to listen was the only variable with a large effect associated with reduced mental suffering (η 2 = 0.18; CI (0.118-0.227)). Psychological experiences of the pandemic are multifaceted and complex. Thus, substantially larger surveys, with both quantitative and qualitative components, are needed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2020


  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Brazil/epidemiology
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections/psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral/psychology
  • Psychological Distress
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Universities

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