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Portuguese Journal of Public Health

Print version ISSN 2504-3137On-line version ISSN 2504-3145


GIL, Jesus D.C. et al. Physical Distancing and Mental Well-Being in Youth Population of Portugal and Brazil during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Port J Public Health [online]. 2022, vol.40, n.2, pp.91-100.  Epub Aug 31, 2022. ISSN 2504-3137.


The COVID-19 pandemic may affect youth’s physical and mental well-being, partially because of the countries’ rules to contain the virus from spreading. However, there is still uncertainty about the impact of physical distancing on youth’s mental health. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of feeling agitated, anxious, down, sad, or low mood (FNF) due to physical distance measures and verify which factors are associated with young Portuguese and Brazilian people.


We used cross-sectional data from the instrument “COVID-19 Barometer: Social Opinion” in Portugal (March 2020 and September 2021) and from “COVID-19 Social Thermometer” in Brazil (August 2020 to April 2021); these surveys included data regarding the health and socioeconomic impact on the population. The health and sociodemographic variables of the two countries were summarized as absolute and relative frequencies. A multivariable logistic regression model was fit by country to estimate the relation between FNF and selected variables of interest.


Approximately 36% of the sample studied reported anxiety, agitation, sadness, or low mood almost every day in Portugal and 52% in Brazil due to physical distancing. In Portugal, having more than two comorbidities represented a greater chance of experiencing FNF every day or almost every day (odds ratio [OR] = 1.51 [CI: 1.22-1.87]) than those without comorbidities. In contrast, having a university education level represented a protector factor (OR = 0.76 [CI: 0.67-0.88]). In Brazil, being unemployed increased the chance of FNF compared to students (OR = 11.2).


Physical distancing measures have impacted the mental well-being of the young population in Portugal and Brazil. The countries must make a quick effort to attend to and protect young people’s well-being and mental health in the changing context of the current pandemic.

Keywords : Pandemic; COVID-19;Youth; Physical distancing; Mental health.

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