The prevalence of anxiety among older adults in nursing homes and other residential aged care facilities: a systematic review

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;31(6):555-66. doi: 10.1002/gps.4378. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Objectives: To synthesize and summarize the studies examining the prevalence rate of anxiety disorders and symptoms in older adults living in residential aged care.

Methods: Using the PRISMA guidelines, five electronic databases were searched using key terms and subject headings, as well as reference lists of relevant papers. The search was limited to literature published in English. Eligible studies examined the prevalence of anxiety disorders or symptoms in aged care residents aged 50+ years.

Results: A total of 2249 articles were identified, of which 18 studies (with a total of 5927 participants) were included in this review. The rate of overall anxiety disorders ranged from 3.2% to 20%, with the highest quality studies estimating a prevalence rate of 5% to 5.7%. Generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias were found to be the most common anxiety disorders among aged care residents, while clinically significant anxiety symptoms were found to be more frequent (6.5% to 58.4%) than threshold disorders.

Conclusions: Anxiety disorders and anxiety symptoms are common in older aged care residents. Given the paucity and overall quality of research examining anxiety within this population and the heterogeneity found in studies, further research is needed to help clarify this issue.

Keywords: aged care; anxiety; elders; long-term care; nursing home; older adults; prevalence; residential care.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Assisted Living Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homes for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence