Prevalence of anxiety in adults with diabetes: a systematic review

J Psychosom Res. 2002 Dec;53(6):1053-60. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00417-8.


Background: Anxiety is associated with decreased functioning and quality of life. It may have added importance in diabetes for its potential adverse effects on regimen adherence and glycemic control.

Objective: To estimate the prevalence of clinically significant anxiety in adults with diabetes.

Research design and methods: MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases and published reference lists were searched to identify studies that determined the prevalence of anxiety in diabetes from threshold scores on self-report measures or from diagnostic interviews. Prevalence was calculated as an aggregate mean weighted by the combined number of subjects in the included studies.

Results: Eighteen studies having a combined population (N) of 4076 (2584 diabetic subjects, 1492 controls) satisfied the inclusion criteria. Most did not adjust for the effects of moderator variables such as gender, and only one was community-based. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) was present in 14% of patients with diabetes. The subsyndromal presentation of anxiety disorder not otherwise specified and of elevated anxiety symptoms were found in 27% and 40%, respectively, of patients with diabetes. The prevalence of elevated symptoms was significantly higher in women compared to men (55.3% vs. 32.9%, P<.0001) and similar in patients with Type 1 vs. Type 2 diabetes (41.3% vs. 42.2%, P=.80).

Conclusion: GAD is present in 14% and elevated symptoms of anxiety in 40% of patients with diabetes who participate in clinical studies. Additional epidemiological studies are needed to determine the prevalence of anxiety in the broader population of persons with diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index