Prevalence of depressive symptoms in primary school students in China: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Dan Dan Xu, Wen Wang Rao, Xiao Lan Cao, Si Ying Wen, Feng Rong An, Weng Ian Che, Daniel T. Bressington, Teris Cheung, Gabor S. Ungvari, Yu Tao Xiang

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Backgrounds: Depression in children and adolescents is usually under-recognized. The findings of epidemiological studies on depressive symptoms in primary school students are inconsistent across studies. This study reports a systematic review and meta-analysis on the prevalence of depressive symptoms in primary school students in China. Methods: Literature search was performed in both international (PubMed, PsycINFO, EMBASE) and Chinese (China National Knowledge Internet, WANFANG Data and Chinese Biological Medical Literature) databases. The random-effects model was used to analyze data. Results: Twenty-seven studies involving 42,374 subjects were included. The pooled prevalence of depressive symptoms in Chinese primary school students was 17.2% (95% CI: 14.3%-20.5%). Subgroup analyses found that the prevalence significantly varied between geographic regions, with western China reporting the highest prevalence. Meta-regression analyses found that year of survey and study quality were significantly associated with the prevalence of depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Given the high prevalence of depressive symptoms and its negative health outcomes, preventive measures, regular screening and effective treatments need to be implemented for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • China
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Meta-analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Primary school students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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