Study shows that couples with children express less emotional distress in the face of a pandemic situation  

The preliminary results of an international study (COVID-19: Cross-Cultural Study on the Effects of Global Stressors in Couples), which the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra integrates, conclude that 74.3% of the participants are very worried about the pandemic, while 22.6% even indicate that they are extremely worried. 66.6% consider that their life has been greatly affected by COVID-19, with the aggravating factor that people in telework (63.5% of the sample) consider, with greater predominance, that the pandemic has affected their life more significantly. It is also the people in telework who most believe that the pandemic will last less time.

This study reveals that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression increased significantly during the post-pandemic period compared to the pre-insolation period. In terms of stress, 11.5% of the sample showed moderate to severe symptoms (compared with 4.6% before the isolation period); 28.2% showed moderate to extremely severe symptoms (compared with 23.6% before the isolation period); and 16% of the participants showed moderate to extremely severe symptoms (compared with 14.2% before the isolation period). Although the worsening of symptoms is observed in all three emotional states, stress is the one that increases most significantly. This result is expected considering that stress is an immediate reaction to the crisis.

It should be noted that it is the participants with children (47.2%) who report significantly less global emotional disorder and less anxiety and depression, regardless of the age of the children.

It is also observed that the greater the satisfaction with the marital relationship, the lower are the levels of depression and stress, a relationship that occurs before and after the pandemic. In turn, marital satisfaction is positively associated with the feeling of control and the perception that one understands the current situation, suggesting these results that marital satisfaction may work as a protective factor for a more positive/adaptive view of the situation.

The collection of data and information during the pandemic crisis is very relevant in order to obtain a picture of the individual and marital impact. But more important is the possibility of gathering information at various points in time, and this study will therefore be continued in Portugal through a longitudinal approach. The participants in this study will be invited to participate at moments distributed over time, in order to obtain a more faithful understanding of the fluctuations of the impacts that OVID-19 has on individual and conjugal well-being. As the results of this study emerge, they will be systematically shared with the wider community.
The Preliminary Report with broader results for Portugal can be found in full HERE

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Este estudo integra-se numa parceria internacional que envolve mais de 40 universidades nos 5 continentes, liderada por Ashley Randall da Universidade do Estado do Arizona (Estados Unidos da América). O estudo tem como objetivo avaliar os impactos da pandemia COVID-19 ao nível do bem-estar psicológico e relacional, em indivíduos casados ou numa relação amorosa, vivendo em Portugal. A maior parte das respostas (59,6%) foi dada nos dias 6, 7 e 8 de abril (3 dias depois da declaração do 2º Estado de Emergência). A amostra é não probabilística, recolhida on-line, entre os dias 6 e 30 de abril, sendo composta por 504 participantes (81,7% do género feminino; média de idades: 37,67 anos, 52,8% com filhos em casa, com 80,4% dos participantes empregados). Este estudo será repetido em novos períodos cruciais da evolução pandémica numa subamostra destes participantes a fim de compreender a evolução destes (e doutros) resultados.

Coordinating team in Portugal:
Ana Paula Relvas (Principal Investigator) -
Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies and full professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra

Luciana Sotero - Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies and guest lecturer at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra

Alda Portugal - Associate Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies and Assistant Professor at the University of Madeira

Sofia Major - Researcher at the Research Centre of the Nucleus of Studies and Cognitive-Behavioural Intervention and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the University of the Azores