Although there have been numerous studies investigating the mental health of individuals during the pandemic, a comparison between countries is still scarce in the literature. To explore this gap, the present study aimed to compare the mental health (i.e., anxiety and depression), quality of life (QoL), and optimism/pessimism among individuals from Brazil and Portugal during the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated factors.
A cross-sectional population-based study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil and Portugal. Data collection was carried out between May and June 2020, using an online form which was sent through social networks. A total of 2069 participants (1156 from Brazil and 913 from Portugal) were included. Depressive symptoms (PHQ-9), Anxiety (GAD-7), optimism/pessimism (Revised Life Orientation Test – LOT), QoL (WHOQOL-Bref), and sociodemographic, health, and social distancing variables were assessed. Data was analyzed using univariate and multivariate models.
There were remarkable differences between Brazil and Portugal in all outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic, including higher levels of depressive symptoms, anxiety, and optimism for the Brazilian individuals and higher levels of QoL and pessimism for the Portuguese individuals. The following factors were associated with the mental health and QoL in both Brazilian and Portuguese populations: gender, age, being a healthcare professional, and days in social distancing.
Despite the fact that Brazilians were more optimistic during the COVID-19 pandemic, they had lower levels of mental health and QoL as compared to the Portuguese individuals.