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.