Estimation of behavioral addiction prevalence during COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Alimoradi, Z., Lotfi, A., Lin, C.-Y., Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524 and Pakpour, A.H., 2022. Estimation of behavioral addiction prevalence during COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Addiction Reports, 9 (4), pp. 486-517. ISSN 2196-2952

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Purpose of Review: The COVID-19 pandemic changed people’s lifestyles and such changed lifestyles included the potential of increasing addictive behaviors. The present systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to estimate the prevalence of different behavioral addictions (i.e., internet addiction, smartphone addiction, gaming addiction, social media addiction, food addiction, exercise addiction, gambling addiction, and shopping addiction) both overall and separately.

Recent Findings: Four databases (PubMed, Scopus, ISI Web of Knowledge, and ProQuest) were searched. Peer-reviewed papers published in English between December 2019 and July 2022 were reviewed and analyzed. Search terms were selected using PECO-S criteria: population (no limitation in participants’ characteristics), exposure (COVID-19 pandemic), comparison (healthy populations), outcome (frequency or prevalence of behavioral addiction), and study design (observational study). A total of 94 studies with 237,657 participants from 40 different countries (mean age 25.02 years; 57.41% females). The overall prevalence of behavioral addiction irrespective of addiction type (after correcting for publication bias) was 11.1% (95% CI: 5.4 to 16.8%). The prevalence rates for each separate behavioral addiction (after correcting for publication bias) were 10.6% for internet addiction, 30.7% for smartphone addiction, 5.3% for gaming addiction, 15.1% for social media addiction, 21% for food addiction, 9.4% for sex addiction, 7% for exercise addiction, 7.2% for gambling addiction, and 7.2% for shopping addiction. In the lockdown periods, prevalence of food addiction, gaming addiction, and social media addiction was higher compared to non-lockdown periods. Smartphone and social media addiction was associated with methodological quality of studies (i.e., the higher the risk of boas, the higher the prevalence rate). Other associated factors of social media addiction were the percentage of female participants, mean age of participants, percentage of individuals using the internet in country, and developing status of country. The percentage of individuals in the population using the internet was associated with all the prevalence of behavioral addiction overall and the prevalence of sex addiction and gambling addiction. Gaming addiction prevalence was associated with data collection method (online vs. other methods) that is gaming addiction prevalence was much lower using online methods to collect the data.

Summary: Behavioral addictions appeared to be potential health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare providers and government authorities should foster some campaigns that assist people in coping with stress during COVID-19 pandemics to prevent them from developing behavioral addictions during COVID-19 and subsequent pandemics.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Current Addiction Reports
Creators: Alimoradi, Z., Lotfi, A., Lin, C.-Y., Griffiths, M.D. and Pakpour, A.H.
Publisher: Springer
Date: December 2022
Volume: 9
Number: 4
ISSN: 2196-2952
Rights: © the author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 12 Sep 2022 13:01
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2022 12:20

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