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Peritraumatic Distress Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic: Comparison between Genders and Countries – Brazil and Portugal

Francisco dos Santos Cardoso, Lucas Emmanuel Pedro de Paiva Teixeira, Renato Leonardo de Freitas, Alberto Abad, Luís Antônio Monteiro Campos and José Aparecido Da Silva

Published: 2021/12/01


Background and aims: The pandemic triggered by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, capable of causing an acute respiratory syndrome, forced countries all over the world to adopt social distancing measures to reduce the circulation of the virus and contain the spread of the pandemic. The many social and health impacts now impose a psychological burden which can lead to issues such as anxiety, fear, depression, distress, and insomnia, which compromise the quality of life of people from different social groups. This study assesses the impact of the pandemic on the levels of distress of males and females in Portugal and Brazil. Methods: In Brazil, 1471 females and 368 males took part in the study. In Portugal, 769 females and 165 males participated. The sample was recruited by disseminating an online form (Google Forms) on social media, television, and e-mail. Peritraumatic distress was analyzed using the COVID-19 Peritraumatic Distress Index (CPDI). Results: In Brazil, statistically significant sex differences, with women scoring higher than men, were observed on 19 of the 24 dimensions, while Portuguese women experienced more distress in 11 out of the 24 dimensions. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on both the Brazilian and the Portuguese population, with females being at higher risk than males for more elevated levels of peritraumatic distress. This highlights the importance and consequences of different policies and suggests that gender should be considered in all stages of the public health response. Keywords: Mental health, Anxiety, Peritraumatic distress, COVID-19

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