Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
http://www.trends.periodikos.com.br/article/doi/10.47626/2237-6089-2022-0496
Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Original Article

Mental health of Brazilian students during the COVID-19 pandemic: the role of gratitude, optimism, and hope in reducing anxiety

Joice Franciele Friedrich Almansa, Tatiane Trivilin, Claudio Simon Hutz, Rosa Maria Martins de Almeida, Ana Claudia Souza Vazquez, Clarissa Pinto Pizarro de Freitas

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Abstract

Objective
To investigate the role of optimism, hope, and gratitude as psychosocial factors for healthy development, especially with regard to anxiety in college students in the context of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Methods
This is a quantitative, descriptive cross-sectional study. A sociodemographic questionnaire, the Brazilian Gratitude Scale (Escala Brasileira de Gratidão [B-GRAT]), and the Brazilian versions of an anxiety subscale, the Revised Life Orientation Test (LOT-R), Hope Index Scale, and BIG-FIVE were administered. Data were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U test, the Kruskal-Wallis test, Spearman correlations, and hierarchical linear regression.

Results
A total of 297 students were assessed. The relationship between gratitude and anxiety became positive in the hierarchical linear analysis, contradicting the initial negative association between these variables according to the Spearman coefficients. This contradiction may be a result of the suppression effect. When gratitude was added to the model, these three variables together accounted for 38% of the variance in anxiety. This indicates that optimism, hope, and gratitude together are significant predictors, although optimism alone accounts for the greater part of the variance in decreased anxiety.

Conclusion
The data confirm that family and religiosity are protective factors against mental illness, specifically non-adaptive anxiety. Furthermore, developing optimism as a protective factor makes it possible to experience less anxiety while hope has the potential to provide the individual with multiple pathways to healthy development. This study highlights that gratitude plays a dual role in these relationships as it has the potential to be associated with anxious feelings with likely negative outcomes while at the same time it can drive positive psychosocial factors of optimism and hope, decreasing anxiety.

Keywords

Anxiety; college students; pandemic; positive psychology; protective factors

Submitted date:
03/03/2022

Accepted date:
08/09/2022

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