What is the global prevalence of depression among men who have sex with men? A systematic review and meta-analysis


Background: Depression due to stigma resulting from their sexual identity, isolation, social exclusion, and insufficient access to care and counseling services has become a health problem among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Objectives: This study aimed to determine the global prevalence of depression among MSM as a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: This study was a systematic review and meta-analysis performed in five steps of search strategy, screening and selecting articles, data extraction, evaluation of the risk of bias, and meta-analysis. In this study, the determined keywords were searched in the databases of PubMed, Scopus, Embase, and Web of Science from January 1913 to July 2021 to find the initial articles, from which data were extracted according to the set checklist in the data extraction stage. Finally, the studies were included in the present meta-analysis according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria, to be evaluated using the Newcastle Ottawa scale checklist. I Square and Q Cochrane were also used to assess the degree of heterogeneity. The analyses were performed using the random-effects model in STATA 16.

Results: The results showed the quality score of the majority of cross-sectional studies included in the meta-analysis (62 studies) was equal to six or seven (moderate), and five ones had a high-quality score. After combining these studies, the pooled prevalence of depression among MSM in the world was 35% (95% CI 31%–39%, I square; 98.95%, P-value < 0.001). Population subgroup analysis showed the pooled prevalence of depression among MSM living with HIV was 47% (95% CI 39%–55%, I square; 95.76%, P-value < 0.001). Continent subgroup analysis showed the highest pooled prevalence of depression among Asian MSM at 37% (95% CI 31%–43%, I square; 99.07%, P-value < 0.001). Also, in the subgroup analysis of the sampling method, the pooled prevalence in the studies which used the respondent-driven sampling method was equal to 34% (95% CI 25%–43%, I square; 99.32%, P-value < 0.001). Sensitivity analysis revealed the pooled prevalence of depression in studies included in the meta-analysis was near or around the pooled estimate.

Conclusion: The pooled prevalence of depression among MSM was almost three times higher than the general male population. Therefore, particular and therapeutic interventions such as screening, and harm reduction programs for mental disorders, especially depression, are suggested to be considered in service packages.


Nouri E, Moradi Y, Moradi G




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Health services
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • Men who have sex with men
    • General HIV- population
  • Mental Health
    • Depression


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