Risk Factors for Herpes Zoster: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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To systematically review studies examining risk factors for herpes zoster (HZ).


We performed a literature search using PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science for articles published from January 1, 2003, to February 1, 2017. A random-effects model was used to summarize the risk ratio (RR) or odds ratio (OR) and 95% CI.


Of the 3450 studies screened, we included 84 studies in the systematic review and conducted meta-analysis in 62 studies. Women were at increased risk of HZ compared with men (pooled adjusted RR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.27-1.34). Black individuals had almost half the risk of HZ as white individuals (pooled RR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.47-0.63). Family history was found to be a risk factor for HZ (pooled OR, 3.59; 95% CI, 2.39-5.40). Autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (pooled RR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.41-1.98) and systemic lupus erythematosus (pooled RR, 2.10; 95% CI, 1.40-3.15), were associated with an elevated risk of HZ. Other comorbidities were associated with an increased risk of HZ, with the pooled RRs ranging from 1.25 (95% CI, 1.13-1.39) for asthma to 1.30 (95% CI, 1.17-1.45) for diabetes mellitus and 1.31 (95% CI, 1.22-1.41) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Our review revealed that female sex, race/ethnicity, family history, and comorbidities are risk factors for HZ. Efforts are needed to increase the uptake of zoster vaccination.

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