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A systematic review and meta-analysis of protozoan parasite infections among patients with mental health disorders: an overlooked phenomenon


Background: Patients with mental disorders have a high risk of intestinal parasitic infection due to poor hygiene practices. Hence, to better clarify this overlooked phenomenon, the current study is conducted to determine the global prevalence of protozoan parasite infections in patients with mental disorders and investigate the associated risk factors.

Methods: Several databases (PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, ProQuest, and Google Scholar) were searched for papers published until December 2022. The fixed effect meta-analysis was used to estimate the overall odds ratio (OR) and pooled prevalence was estimated using a random-effects model with a 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results: Totally, 131 articles (91 case–control and 40 cross-sectional studies) met the eligibility criteria. Patients with mental disorders were significantly at higher risk for protozoan parasites than healthy controls (OR: 2.059, 1.830–2.317). The highest pooled OR (2.485, 1.413–4.368) was related to patients with neurodevelopmental disorders, and the highest pooled prevalence was detected in patients with neurodevelopmental disorders (0.341, 0.244–0.446), followed by bipolar and related disorders (0.321, 0.000–0.995). Toxoplasma gondii was the most prevalent protozoan parasite (0.343, 0.228–0.467) in cross-sectional studies and the highest pooled OR was related to Cyclospora cayetanensis (4.719, 1.352–16.474) followed by Cryptosporidium parvum (4.618, 2.877–7.412).

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrated that individuals afflicted with mental disorders are significantly more susceptible to acquiring protozoan parasites in comparison to healthy individuals. Preventive interventions, regular screening, and treatment approaches for parasitic diseases should be considered for patients with mental disorders.

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Journal Article
Abdoli A
Olfatifar M
Eslahi AV
Moghadamizad Z
Samimi R
Habibi MA
Kianimoghadam AS
Badri M
Karanis P

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