eISSN: 2353-5571
ISSN: 2353-4184
Health Psychology Report
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2/2021
vol. 9
 
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abstract:
Original paper

Optimists’ and pessimists’ self-reported mental and global health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway

Inger Schou-Bredal
1, 2
,
Tine Grimholt
3, 4
,
Tore Bonsaksen
5, 6
,
Laila Skogstad
7, 8
,
Trond Heir
9, 10
,
Øivind Ekeberg
11

1.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
2.
Department of Cancer, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
3.
Department of Acute Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
4.
Faculty of Health Studies, VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway
5.
Department of Health and Nursing Science, Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Elverum, Norway
6.
Faculty of Health Studies, VID Specialized University, Sandnes, Norway
7.
Faculty of Health Sciences, Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway
8.
Department of Research, Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital HF, Nesodden, Norway
9.
Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo, Norway
10.
Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
11.
Department of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
Health Psychology Report, 9(2), 160–168
Online publish date: 2021/01/05
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Background
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a global health crisis. How well people cope with this situation depends on many factors, including one’s personality, such as dispositional optimism. The aim of the study was to investi-gate: 1) optimists’ and pessimists’ concerns during lockdown, and mental and global health; 2) whether pessi-mists without known risk factors more often than optimists report being at risk for COVID-19.

Participants and procedure
A snowball sampling strategy was used; 4,527 people, 18 years or older, participated in a survey on a variety of mental health conditions and COVID-19 worries. In addition, they completed the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R). Optimism was defined by LOT-R f ≥ 17.

Results
Fewer optimists than pessimists reported that they were worried about COVID-19, respectively 51.2% vs. 66.8%, p < .001. Among those reporting none of the known somatic risk factors, more pessimists than optimists (14.3% vs. 9.1%, p < .001) considered themselves at risk of a fatal outcome from COVID-19. Significantly fewer optimists reported that they had anxiety (5.1%), depression (3.4%), suicidal ideation (0.7%) and insomnia (19.3%) during the COVID-19 outbreak than pessimists (24.7% anxiety, 18.4% depression, 5.4% suicidal idea-tion, 39.8% insomnia, all p < .001). Optimists reported better global health than pessimists (87.2 vs. 84.6, p < .001).

Conclusions
Optimists were generally less worried about the COVID-19 pandemic than pessimists and reported better men-tal and global health during lockdown. Pessimists more often than optimists reported being at risk for COVID-19 without reporting known risk factors.

keywords:

anxiety; COVID-19; depression; dispositional optimism; insomnia

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