Limited evidence is currently available on the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to assess the prevalence and geographic distribution of PTSD symptoms after SCI.
After a search in the MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science databases, two reviewers independently summarized relevant studies published through 20 October 2021. Observational studies were included. The studies were eligible if they assessed PTSD symptoms using standard self-report or clinician-based instruments. Data and results were reported using the overall prevalence and the odds ratio (OR), with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
24 articles (5646 patients) met the inclusion criteria. The prevalence of PTSD symptoms ranged from 6.33% (95% CI, 2.73–13.97) to 61.76% (95% CI, 52.07–70.61). Pooled analysis demonstrated that the overall prevalence of PTSD symptoms in SCI patients was significantly higher in developing countries (41.64%; 95% CI, 31.11–52.55) than in developed countries (19.35%; 95% CI, 14.66–24.51) (OR = 1.24; 95% CI, 1.08–1.42; p = .003). The highest prevalence of PTSD symptoms was reported in South Africa (56.25%; 95% CI, 47.01–65.08), followed by Sri Lanka (45.71%; 95% CI, 30.47–61.81), and Greece (43.55%; 95% CI, 31.94–55.91). By contrast, Norway (6.33%; 95% CI, 2.73–13.97), Switzerland/Germany (8.65%; 95% CI, 4.8–13.42), and Denmark (10.71%; 95% CI, 6.89–16.30) were found to have the lowest prevalence of PTSD symptoms after SCI.
Many traumatic SCI patients suffer from PTSD symptoms, and their prevalence seems to be higher in developing countries than in developed countries. These findings underscore the need to consider the psychological aspects of traumatic SCI.