Asian countries are deemed to be high prevalence areas for gaming disorder (GD). This meta-analysis is the first to synthesize the overall prevalence of GD in East Asia and investigate characteristics that influence prevalence estimates.
Systematic and independent searches were conducted across PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library since their inception to January 27, 2021. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality scale was used for quality assessment. A random effect model was used to calculate the overall GD prevalence and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
In total, 22 articles (26 studies) comprising 51,525 participants were included in this meta-analysis. The overall pooled prevalence of GD in East Asia was 12%, 95% CI (10%–15%); this figure was adjusted to 6%, 95% CI (3%–9%) for a representative sample. Higher prevalence was observed in males than in females (16% vs. 8%, respectively, P < 0.05). Subgroup and meta-regression analyses revealed that studies among gamers or those without random sampling reported significantly higher prevalence rates. There were no significant differences between countries/regions, sample size, quality score, proportion of males, and scale used.
Discussion and conclusions
The prevalence of GD in East Asia is higher than that in other world regions. Future studies should extend such epidemiological research to other regions to calculate the accurate prevalence of GD to benefit the local identification, prevention, policy formulation, and treatment efforts. Considering its negative effects, effective preventive and treatment measures for GD in East Asia need greater attention.