Prevalence of depressive symptoms and anxiety in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Age Ageing. 2016 Mar;45(2):228-35. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw001. Epub 2016 Jan 20.


Objective: osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability. This systematic review aimed to establish the prevalence of depressive symptoms and anxiety among people with osteoarthritis in comparison to those without osteoarthritis.

Method: we systematically reviewed databases including AMED, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, BNI, CINAHL and the Cochrane database library from their inception to January 2015. Studies presenting data on depressive symptoms and anxiety in people with osteoarthritis were included. A random- and fixed-effect meta-analysis was conducted on all eligible data.

Results: a total of 49 studies were included, representing 15,855 individuals (59% women; mean age 65.2 years). The evidence base was moderate in quality. The pooled prevalence of depressive symptoms in osteoarthritis was 19.9% (95% confidence intervals (CI): 15.9-24.5%, n = 10,811). The corresponding pooled prevalence was 21.3% (95% CI: 15.5-28.5%; n = 1,226) for anxiety symptoms. The relative risk of depression among people with osteoarthritis was 1.17 (95% CI 0.69-2.00, three studies, n = 941) compared with people without osteoarthritis. The relative risk of anxiety was 1.35 (95% CI: 0.51-3.59; three studies, n = 733) compared with those without osteoarthritis.

Conclusion: one-fifth of people with osteoarthritis experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, it is uncertain whether this is increased compared with those without osteoarthritis, with no direct evidence to support an increase in anxiety and depression in osteoarthritis.

Prospero registration number: CRD42013006733.

Keywords: degenerative; mood; older people; osteoarthritis; pain; psychological; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors