Anxiety in asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Psychol Med. 2021 Jan;51(1):11-20. doi: 10.1017/S0033291720005097. Epub 2021 Jan 12.


Background: Background: Growing evidence from observational studies indicates a high prevalence of anxiety in asthma. However, prevalence rates of coexisting anxiety symptoms and comorbid anxiety disorders vary widely across studies. We aimed to evaluate the associations between anxiety and asthma and provide more precise comorbidity estimates.

Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature from case-controlled studies and conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the pooled prevalence estimates and risks of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders in asthma individuals. Screening, data extraction, and quality assessment were undertaken following PRISMA guidelines for preferred reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analysis. A random-effects model was used to calculate pooled prevalence rates. Meta-analysis was conducted using Review Manager 5.3. Multiple databases including PubMed, ScienceDirect, PsychINFO, and PsycARTICLES were searched for publications before 1 December 2019. The review protocol was registered on PROSPERO (ref: CRD42020176028).

Results: In total, 19 studies involving 106813 participants were included. The pooled prevalence of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders in individuals with asthma was 0.32 (95% CI 0.22-0.43) and 0.24 (95% CI 0.13-0.41), respectively. The risks of coexisting anxiety symptoms and comorbid anxiety disorders were significantly higher in asthma patients than in non-asthma controls indicated by OR 1.89 (95% CI 1.42-2.52; Z = 4.37; p < 0.001) and OR 2.08 (95% CI 1.70-2.56; Z = 6.97; p < 0.001), respectively. Anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders occur at increased frequency among patients with asthma.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need for appropriate assessments for these comorbid conditions, which may help to identify a subgroup of patients who might benefit from interventions designed to reduce anxiety and enhance the quality of life.

Keywords: Anxiety; asthma; meta-analysis; prevalence; review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans