Objectives: To examine the global prevalence of depression among nursing students and the variation in depression rates influenced by demographic and educational factors.
Background: Depression affects approximately 350 million people worldwide and is the world's leading cause of disability. Nursing students struggle to cope with not only stressors common in higher education institutions but also anxiety towards clinical placements. Evidence has suggested high prevalence of depression among them, but no reviews have been conducted to report a consolidated prevalence.
Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Review methods and data sources: A search was conducted from November 2015 to January 2016 on CINAHL, EMBASE, Medline OVID, Medline ProQuest, PsycINFO, PubMed, ScienceDirect, and SCOPUS, using a combination of keywords "depression", "nursing students", "mood disorder", "affective disorder", 'undergraduate nursing', "nursing education", "nursing undergraduate", and "nursing diploma".
Results: A total of 27 cross-sectional studies were included. The sample comprised 8918 nursing students and the mean age ranged from 17.4 to 28.4 years. Among these studies, the proportion of female students ranged from 79.0% to 100.0%. A high pooled prevalence of depression of 34.0% was reported among nursing students. Significant differences in depression prevalence were noted for different subgroups of age, with a higher prevalence noted in younger students (41.0%), and for different geographical regions, with Asian nursing students experiencing a higher prevalence of depression (43.0%). No significant difference was noted between nursing and non-nursing students.
Conclusion: The findings suggest a high prevalence of depression among nursing students. This serves as an impetus for educational reforms in nursing schools and proposes for further research to aid prospective nurses in safeguarding their psychological wellbeing. In the long run, it is imperative that competent nurses be nurtured to improve the standards of healthcare and patients' quality of life.
Keywords: Affective disorder; Depression; Meta-analysis; Mood disorder; Nursing education; Nursing students; Prevalence; Systematic review.
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