Mental disorder symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America - a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci, 2022, 31, pp. e23
Issue Date:
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AIMS: There is a lack of evidence related to the prevalence of mental health symptoms as well as their heterogeneities during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Latin America, a large area spanning the equator. The current study aims to provide meta-analytical evidence on mental health symptoms during COVID-19 among frontline healthcare workers, general healthcare workers, the general population and university students in Latin America. METHODS: Bibliographical databases, such as PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, PsycINFO and medRxiv, were systematically searched to identify pertinent studies up to August 13, 2021. Two coders performed the screening using predefined eligibility criteria. Studies were assigned quality scores using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. The double data extraction method was used to minimise data entry errors. RESULTS: A total of 62 studies with 196 950 participants in Latin America were identified. The pooled prevalence of anxiety, depression, distress and insomnia was 35%, 35%, 32% and 35%, respectively. There was a higher prevalence of mental health symptoms in South America compared to Central America (36% v. 28%, p < 0.001), in countries speaking Portuguese (40%) v. Spanish (30%). The pooled prevalence of mental health symptoms in the general population, general healthcare workers, frontline healthcare workers and students in Latin America was 37%, 34%, 33% and 45%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The high yet heterogenous level of prevalence of mental health symptoms emphasises the need for appropriate identification of psychological interventions in Latin America.
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