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Prevalence of anxiety in college and university students: An umbrella review.

Tan, G. X. D., Soh, X. C., Hartanto, A., Goh, A. Y. H., & Majeed, N. M.



The pervasiveness of anxiety has been increasing progressively over the years, becoming one of the most critical concerns among colleges and universities. With implications extending towards poorer academic performance and overall student mental health, there is an urgent need to address this growing concern. As such, we conducted an umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses to summarize data in the literature on the overall prevalence of anxiety among college and university students. Moreover, this umbrella review also considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and assessed potential moderators through distinct subgroup analyses. A systematic search was carried out across various sources, including five databases, five journals, Google Scholar, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global, which yielded 25 reviews that met inclusion criteria. Sample sizes ranged from 1,122 to 1,264,132 (Mdn = 22,171) that covered all regions including Africa, Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America, and South America. Findings from these 25 reviews were subsequently synthesized narratively. The overall prevalence of anxiety among college and university students had a median of 32.00 % and ranged from 7.40 to 55.00%. Subgroup analyses revealed that being female, living in Asia versus Europe, and being an undergraduate were associated with higher levels of anxiety. In addition, an increase in anxiety was observed pertaining to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our findings highlight the susceptibility of college and university students to anxiety and emphasizes the need for more comprehensive strategies, implementations, and interventions to combat this rising trend.

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