Eco-anxiety, its determinants and the adoption of pro-environmental behaviors: Preliminary findings from the Generation XXI cohort.
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EPIUnit - Instituto de Saúde Pública, Universidade do Porto, Rua das Taipas, Porto, Portugal
Laboratório para a Investigação Integrativa e Translacional em Saúde Populacional (ITR), Rua das Taipas, Porto, Portugal
Departamento de Ciências da Saúde Pública e Forenses e Educação Médica, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
Unidade de Saúde Pública Grande Porto VII – Gaia, Serviço Nacional de Saúde, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Departamento de Medicina Preventiva, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSP, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Department of Public Health, History of Science and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, Miguel Hernández University, Sant Joan d’Alacant, Alicante, Spain
CIBER in Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A186
Background and Objective:
Eco-anxiety describes the mental distress resulting from extreme concern about environmental circumstances as well as the effects of climate change. The study aims to measure eco-anxiety, identify its determinants, and assess the associations between eco-anxiety and health, as well as pro-environmental behaviors in participants of Generation XXI birth cohort at the ages of 16/17 years.

A cross-sectional evaluation based on a web-based questionnaire is currently on-going in the entire cohort (N= 8647). Eco-anxiety was assessed using Hogg et al. scale (2021), which was translated and culturally adapted to Portugal. The Beck Anxiety Inventory was used to assess generalized anxiety. The adoption of pro-environmental behaviors was evaluated using an adapted version of the Kaiser et al. (2007) instrument. Eco-anxiety scale was categorized in quintiles. Linear and logistic regression were used to estimate associations.

We found that 18.5% of the participants have some degree of eco-anxiety, scoring higher than 9 (scale from 39). Individuals in the top quintile (quintile 5) of eco-anxiety were more likely to be females [OR=3.9, 95%CI 1.9-8.1] and have poor self-rated health [OR=2.4 1.0-5.6] when compared to those with lower scores (quintiles 2-4). Higher levels of generalized anxiety were associated with higher eco-anxiety scores [β=0.16, 0.12-0.21]. Participants scoring higher in the eco-anxiety scale engaged more often in collective (e.g., activism [β=0.03, 0.01-0.04], nature conservation initiatives [β=0.06, 0.04-0.08]) and some individual pro-environmental behaviors (e.g., reduced meat consumption [β=0.06, 0.04-0.09], recycling [β=0.04, 0.01-0.07]). They also more frequently read/look for information about environmental problems [β=0.08, 0.05-0.10].

These preliminary results showed that eco-anxiety is more common in females and seems to be associated with generalized anxiety and poorer self-rated health. Eco-anxiety appears to prompt adolescents to adopt some proactive behaviors. Because the data collection is still ongoing these results should be interpreted with caution.