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OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of anxiety in general hospital inpatients by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of all relevant published studies. METHOD: We searched Ovid Medline, Ovid Embase and Ovid PsycINFO from inception to December 2020. We included studies of the prevalence of anxiety symptoms of clinically significant severity (using cut-off scores on rating scales) and of the prevalence of anxiety disorders (using diagnostic interviews) in general hospital inpatients. Two independent reviewers assessed articles and extracted data. The review is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42020189722. RESULTS: We included 32 studies. Pooled prevalence estimates in random-effects meta-analyses were: anxiety symptoms 28% (95% CI 19% to 38%, 95% prediction interval 5% to 72%), any anxiety disorder 8% (95% CI 5% to 12%, 95% prediction interval 2% to 33%), panic disorder 3% (95% CI 2% to 4%, 95% prediction interval 1% to 8%), generalized anxiety disorder 5% (95% CI 3% to 8%, 95% prediction interval 1% to 23%). There was high heterogeneity in prevalence, little of which was explained in exploratory analyses of a limited number of potential determinants. CONCLUSION: Anxiety symptoms of clinically significant severity affect more than one in four inpatients and anxiety disorders affect nearly one in ten.

Original publication




Journal article


Gen Hosp Psychiatry

Publication Date





131 - 140


Anxiety, General hospital inpatient, Meta-analysis, Prevalence, Systematic review