Prevalence and demographics of anxiety disorders: a snapshot from a community health centre in Pakistan

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Background: The developing world is faced with a high burden of anxiety disorders. The exact prevalence of anxiety disorders in Pakistan is not known. There is a need to develop an evidence base to aid policy development on tackling anxiety and depressive disorders in the country. This is the first pilot study to address the prevalence of anxiety disorders and their association with sociodemographic factors in Pakistan.Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among people visiting Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), a tertiary care facility in Karachi, Pakistan. The point prevalence of anxiety amongst the sample population, which comprised of patients and their attendants, excluding all health care personnel, was assessed using the validated Urdu version of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The questionnaire was administered to 423 people. Descriptive statistics were performed for mean scores and proportions.Results: The mean anxiety score of the population was 5.7 +/- 3.86. About 28.3% had borderline or pathological anxiety. The factors found to be independently predicted with anxiety were, female sex (odds ratio (OR) = 2.14, 95% CI 1.36-3.36, p = 0.01); physical illness (OR = 1.67, 95% CI 1.06-2.64, p = 0.026); and psychiatric illness (OR = 1.176, 95% CI 1.0-3.1, p = 0.048). In the final multivariate model, female sex (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2, 95% CI 1.28-3.22) and physical illness (AOR = 1.56, 95% CI 0.97-2.48) were found to be significant.CONCLUSION: Further studies via nationally representative surveys need to be undertaken to fully grasp the scope of this emerging public health issue in Pakistan.


Annals of General Psychiatry