Prevalence of internet addiction in healthcare professionals: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2021 Aug;67(5):483-491. doi: 10.1177/0020764020959093. Epub 2020 Sep 22.


Background: Internet addition is becoming increasingly recognised as an important mental health problem.

Aim: This study examined prevalence of internet addiction in healthcare professionals.

Method: Systematic literature review was undertaken of June 4, 2020 with goal to identify studies that evaluated prevalence of internet addiction or problematic internet use in medical professionals. Reported associations with other mental health symptoms were also considered.

Results: Prevalence of internet addiction was studied in medical residents only (n = 770; three studies), faculty members only (n = 69; one study), nurses only (n = 564; one study) and mixed samples of medical professionals (n = 415; three studies). Pooled prevalence rate of internet addiction in 1,818 healthcare professionals was 9.7% (95% confidence interval: 5.8%-13.6%). Internet addiction was associated with greater mental symptom burden and fatigue of healthcare workers.

Conclusion: Internet addiction is present in healthcare professionals, however, to a lesser extent than in medical students suggesting that increasing clinical responsibilities and increasing age can be important moderators of risk for internet addiction. Internet addiction is associated with greater burden of unfavourable mental health outcomes of healthcare professionals. Further studies exploring global burden of internet addiction in healthcare professionals and possible impact of internet addiction on work performance of healthcare professionals are encouraged.

Keywords: Internet addiction; healthcare; problematic use of internet.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Internet Addiction Disorder*
  • Prevalence