Global prevalence and associated risk factors of posttraumatic stress disorder during COVID-19 pandemic: A meta-analysis

Int J Nurs Stud. 2022 Feb;126:104136. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2021.104136. Epub 2021 Nov 12.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the psychological well-being of individuals and society. Previous studies conducted on coronavirus outbreaks including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome pandemic found that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety were the most common mental health problems and long-term consequences of these outbreaks. Currently, comprehensive and integrated information on the global prevalence of PTSD due to the COVID-19 pandemic is lacking.

Objective: In the present meta-analysis, we examined the global prevalence and associated risk factors of PTSD in patients/survivors of COVID-19, health professionals, and the population at large.

Design: Meta-analysis.

Data source: Cochrane, CINAHL, Embase, MEDLINE, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and manual search up to June 2021.

Methods: We included studies evaluating the prevalence of PTSD during the COVID-19 pandemic in either patients/survivors, health professionals, and the population at large. The data were analyzed using logit transformation with the random-effects model. Risk of bias assessment was conducted using Hoy and colleagues.

Results: A total of 63 studies (n = 124,952) from 24 different countries were involved. The overall pooled estimate of PTSD prevalence was 17.52% (95% CI 13.89 to 21.86), with no evidence of publication bias (t=-0.22, p-value=0.83). This study found a high prevalence of PTSD among patients with COVID-19 (15.45%; 95% CI 10.59 to 21.99), health professionals (17.23%; 95% CI 11.78 to 24.50), and the population at large (17.34%; 95% CI 12.21 to 24.03). Subgroup analyses showed that those working in COVID-19 units (30.98%; 95% CI, 16.85 to 49.86), nurses (28.22%; 95% CI, 15.83 to 45.10), those living in European countries (25.05%; 95% CI 19.14 to 32.06), and studies that used Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (30.18%, 95% CI 25.78 to 34.98) demonstrated to have the highest PTSD prevalence compared to other subgroups. Meta-regression analyses revealed that the elderly (above age 65) had lower PTSD prevalence (-1.75, 95% CI -3.16 to -0.34) than the adult population.

Conclusion and implications: Substantial PTSD prevalence was found in patients with COVID-19, health professionals, and the population at large. Moderator analysis revealed that age, unit of work, health profession, continent, and assessment tools as significant moderators. Mental health services are needed for everyone, especially adults under the age of 65, those who work in COVID-19 units, nurses, and people in the European continent.

Registration: The study protocol was registered with the International database of prospective registered systematic reviews (PROSPERO): CRD42020218762. Tweetable abstract: The pooled PTSD prevalence during COVID-19 pandemic for patients with COVID-19, health professionals, and the population at large was 17.52%.

Keywords: COVID-19; Meta-analysis; PTSD; Prevalence; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / epidemiology