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Anxiety Symptoms in University Professors during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ana Patrícia da Silva Souza1,2, Mariluce Rodrigues Marques Silva1,2, Ana Beatriz Januário da Silva1,2, Patrícia Celina de Lira2, José Maurício Lucas da Silva2,3, Mayara Luclécia da Silva2,3, Taciane Silva do Carmo2,3, Simone Carla Peres Leite2, Roberta Karlize Pereira Silva2, Karollaine Gomes da Silva2, Péricles Tavares Austregésilo Filho2,4, Matheus Santos de Sousa Fernandes1, Waleska Maria Almeida Barros1,2,3 and Viviane de Oliveira Nogueira Souza4,5*

1Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Sciences,Health Sciences Center, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

2Integrated Center for Neuroscience Technologies (CITEC),Osman Lins University Center (UNIFACOL), Vitória de Santo Antão, Pernambuco, Brazil

3Department of Physiotherapy, Health Sciences Center, Osman Lins University Center (UNIFACOL), Vitória de Santo Antão, Pernambuco, Brazil

4Department of Tropical Animal Science, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco-Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

5Nutrition Center, Academic Center of Vitória (CAV), Federal University of Pernambuco - Vitória de Santo Antão, Pernambuco, Brazil

*Corresponding Author:

Viviane de Oliveira Nogueira Souza
Department of Tropical Animal Science
Federal Rural University of Pernambuco-Recife
Pernambuco, Brazil
Tel: 4403686868
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: November 07, 2020; Accepted Date: November 23, 2020; Published Date: November 27, 2020

Citation: Souza APS, Silva MRM, Silva ABJ, Lira PC, Silva JML, Silva ML, et al. (2020) Anxiety Symptoms in University Professors during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Health Sci J. 14 No. 7: 773.

DOI: 10.36648/1791-809X.14.7.773

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The pandemic scenario for the new COVID-19 (corona virus disease), reached alarming proportions, thus many government officials declared a state of emergency to effectively fight the disease through strategies including, social distance through decrees for stay at home, travel restrictions and closing nonessential services [1-3]. In addition, in order to prevent the spread of this pathology, competent bodies have opted for a halt in its operation, among them institutions of basic to higher education, these procedures occurred in 150 countries from March 25, 2020, causing an impact for more than 80% of the world's student population [4,5].

About health, it is already known that prolonged home isolation, during the outbreak of a disease can promote damage to the physical and mental health of individuals [6]. In this sense, during a COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety may develop in healthy individuals or those with a previous psychiatric disorder [4].

Some studies have already shown changes in the mental or physical state of health professional [7], as well as students in several higher education courses were studied during the COVID-19 pandemic period [2], however, the real impact of this chaotic situation on components related to the mental health of university professors is not known. In this sense, the objective of this cross-sectional study was to quantify the symptoms of anxiety during the period of social detachment, in addition to making a comparison between teachers in relation to sex and in different undergraduate courses in the Centro UniversitarioEscritor Osman da Costa Lins-UNIFACOL, emVitória de Santo Antão- PE, Brazil. The research was approved by the Human Studies Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Pernambuco with protocol number 4,066,034.

All teachers (n=200) who remained in remote classes, were invited to participate in the online survey by digital media. Those who accepted (n=115) answer an electronic questionnaire (Google forms®), between June 4th and 15th, 2020, composed of sociodemographic issues and the trait-state anxiety inventory (TSAI) that assesses subjective aspects related to anxiety [1]. Among volunteers, 57.4% are male, with respect to age 37.4% are between 35 and 45 years old, 61.7% are married, 42.6% have two children or more, 40% exercise teaching for more than ten years, 24.3% report working more than ten hours a day, and 49.6% teach in health courses (Table 1).

Table 1 Sociodemographic characteristics of university professors (n=115).

Gender Male 66 57,4
Female 49 42,6
Age 25 to 35 years 34 29,6
35 to 45 years 43 37,4
45 to 55 years 24 20,9
Above 55 years 14 12,2
Marital status Single 31 27
Married or living with a partner 71 61,7
Separated or divorced 12   10,4
Widower 1   0,9
Race Black 8 7
White 61 53
Brown 45 39,1
Mixed race 1 0,9
Occupation area Health 57 49,6
Exact sciences 14 12,2
Human 51 44,3
Number of children None 27 33,9
One 39 23,5
Two or more 49 42,6
How long have you been a professor 1-2 years 20 17,4
3-5 years 22 19,1
6-10 years 27 23,5
Over 10 years 46 40
Daily working hours 3-6 hours 37 32,2
6-8 hours 26 22,6
8-10 hours 24 20,9
More than 10 hours 28 24,3

With regard to the trait, which shows a more stable and frequent aspect of anxiety in the individual's life, 12% of the volunteers manifested a high degree, however with regard to the state, which represents the level of anxiety presented at the moment evaluated, 46% of the total number of teachers had a high degree of anxiety symptoms. Higher levels of anxiety symptoms were found in female teachers, both in the state and in the trait (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Mean scores of State and Trait of anxiety by sex. Mann Whitney test p<0.05; *** 0.0002; ** 0.0014; n=115 (male=66 and female=49).

A study carried out during the outbreak of COVID-19 in an adult population, found moderate to severe anxiety symptoms in about a third of individuals and the female sex was significantly associated with a greater psychological impact and higher levels of anxiety [6]. Despite studying a different population, our result was similar. Some factors such as the speed at which the virus spreads, the uncertainties about it, the duration of the pandemic and its consequences can be risk factors for the mental health of the population [8]. These findings point to the need for actions on the part of institutions to maintain the mental health of their employees, which can promote an improvement in the provision of services and the well-being of professionals, especially in a time of pandemic.


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