Emerging evidence suggests rates of posttraumatic stress and psychological stress in the general population are elevated due to COVID-19. However, a meta-analysis is needed to attain more precise prevalence estimates due to between-study variability. Thus, we performed a rapid review and meta-analysis of posttraumatic stress and general psychological stress symptoms during COVID-19. Electronic searches were conducted up to May 26th, 2020 using key terms: mental illness and COVID-19. A total of k = 14 non-overlapping studies were identified for inclusion. Random effects meta-analyses indicated that the pooled prevalence of posttraumatic stress symptoms and psychological stress in the general population was 23.88% and 24.84%, respectively. In both meta-analyses, the prevalence of stress symptoms was higher in unpublished compared to peer-reviewed studies. Overall, nearly one-in-four adults experienced significant stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological resources and services must be allocated to help address the mental health burden of COVID-19. High quality, longitudinal research on the long-term mental health effects of the pandemic is greatly needed.
Keywords: COVID-19; Mental health; Meta-analysis; Posttraumatic stress; Psychological stress; Rapid review.
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