The relationship between fear of COVID-19 and mental health problems: A meta-analysis

Death Stud. 2022;46(3):515-523. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2021.1889097. Epub 2021 Feb 27.


The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused physical and mental health problems among individuals around the world. Recent studies have reported various mental health problems among both health-care workers and the general population. In this meta-analysis, evidence is provided concerning the relationships between the Fear of COVID-19 Scale. The fear of COVID-19 scale: Development and initial validation. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction] - the most widely used, translated, and validated scale - and mental health problems including, anxiety, stress, depression, distress, post-traumatic stress, and sleep problems among the general population. We searched for relevant studies on Web of Science, Google Scholar, PubMed, and ERIC databases and conducted a meta-analysis with selected studies in accordance with the inclusion criteria. A total of 33 studies met the inclusion criteria. The results demonstrated that fear of COVID-19 was strongly related to anxiety (r = 0.55, n = 19,578), traumatic stress (r = 0.54, n = 8,752), distress (r = 0.53, n = 11,785) as well as being moderately related to stress (r = 0.47, n = 4,340) and depression (r = 0.38, n = 23,835). The correlation with insomnia (r = 0.27, n = 2,114) was modest. These results demonstrate that fear of COVID-19 is associated a wide range of mental health problems among the general population.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Prevalence
  • SARS-CoV-2