Systematic review and meta-analysis of predictors of adjustment disorders in adults

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of affective disorders






Adjustment disorders; Predictors; Risk factors


BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of adjustment disorder is common in clinical practice, yet there is lack of research on the etiology and epidemiology of adjustment disorders. The goal of this systematic review was to evaluate predictors of adjustment disorders in adults. METHODS: We conducted systematic searches in MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO. We included 70 studies that examined thirteen theoretically-derived and predefined predictors of adjustment disorders with a total of 3,449,374 participants. RESULTS: We found that female gender, younger age, unemployed status, stress, physical illness and injury, low social support, and a history of mental health disorders predicted adjustment disorders. Most of these predictors differentiated individuals with adjustment disorders from individuals with no mental health disorders. Participants with adjustment disorders were more likely to have experienced accidents than were those with posttraumatic stress disorder but were less likely to have experienced assaults and abuse, neglect, and maltreatment. More research is needed to identify factors that differentiate adjustment disorders from other mental health disorders. LIMITATIONS: Because very few studies adjusted for confounders (e.g., demographic variables, mental health histories, and a variety of stressors), it was not possible to identify independent associations between predictors and adjustment disorders. CONCLUSIONS: We identified a number of factors that predicted adjustment disorders compared to no mental health diagnosis. The majority of studies were rated as moderate or high in risk of bias, suggesting that more rigorous research is needed to confirm the relationships we detected.


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