The prevalence of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder among African migrants: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Peter Bai James, Andre M.N. Renzaho, Lillian Mwanri, Ian Miller, Jon Wardle, Kathomi Gatwiri, Romy Lauche

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Evidence exists reporting a high mental health burden among migrants globally. However, there is no global estimate of mental ill-health among African migrants despite their adverse pre-migration environments. This systematic review and meta-analysis summarise the current scholarship regarding the prevalence of anxiety, depression and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the global African migrant population. Methods: We searched six databases (Medline (EBSCOHost), PsycINFO (EBSCOHost), Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL) from 1st January 2000 to 31st August 2021. We screened retrieved articles using strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. Study quality was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal tools. Random-effects meta-analyses were employed using DerSimonian and Laird estimator based on inverse variance weights. The I2 statistic was used to measure heterogeneity. Results: Our search retrieved 1091 articles, of which 46 were included representing a total of 28,367 African migrants. The weighted mean age of African migrants was 32.98 years, and nearly half were male (n= 12852, 45.31%). Among the included studies, almost nine out of ten (n=41, 89.1%) were cross-sectional studies. The pooled prevalence of anxiety, depression and PTSD was 34.60%;95%CI (26.30-43.00), 33.20%;95%CI (27.70-38.37) and 37.9%;95%CI (23.5- 52.4) respectively. Significant heterogeneity (I2 >98%) existed in the prevalence estimates for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Sub-group analyses indicate a significantly higher prevalence of anxiety and depression but PTSD for studies conducted in Africa than outside Africa. Similarly, higher prevalence rates for anxiety, depression, and PTSD were seen in studies that used a screening tool than in those that used a diagnostic tool, although a significant difference was observed for depression only. Conclusion: Despite significant heterogeneity among included studies, our systematic review and meta-analysis show a high prevalence of anxiety, depression, and PTSD among African migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114899
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Africa
  • Mental health
  • Meta-analysis
  • Migrants
  • Refugees
  • Systematic review


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