Post-pandemic stress of COVID-19 among high-risk groups: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Affect Disord. 2022 Dec 15:319:638-645. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2022.09.053. Epub 2022 Sep 27.


Background: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is considered as a prevalent outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to present a global picture of the prevalence of PTSD in high-risk groups for COVID-19 (HRGs-COVID19) and determine its risk factors.

Methods: Cross-sectional studies published between March 11, 2020, and October 11, 2021, in English, were searched in seven databases on the prevalence of PTSD in HRGs-COVID19. After screening the retrieved records, their quality was assessed, and the required data were extracted. R-4.1.3 software and random effect model with 95 % confidence interval (CI) were used to synthesize and analyze the data.

Results: The pooled prevalence of PTSD in HRGs-COVID19 was 30 % (95 % CI: 21-39 %). The pooled prevalence of PTSD was significantly different in terms of the variables of data collection during the lockdown, gender, and data collection season (P < 0.05). Subgroup analyses could not identify sources of heterogeneity.

Limitations: The included studies did not cover all HRGs-COVID19 such as smokers and the elderly.

Conclusion: Considering the higher pooled prevalence of PTSD in HRGs-COVID19 than the general population, COVID-19 patients, and health care workers, prioritizing this subgroup for prevention and treatment of psychological outcomes is highly recommended. Predicting and implementing psychological interventions early in the pandemic is more critical when applying restrictive measures and among HRGs-COVID19 women.

Keywords: COVID-19; High-risk groups; Mental disorders; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Post-traumatic stress symptoms; Prevalence; Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Prevalence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / psychology