ObjectiveTo systematically review the status of alexithymia in the Chinese elderly.MethodsCNKI, VIP, CBM, WanFang Data, PubMed, EMbase, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and The Cochrane Library databases were electronically searched to collect cross-sectional studies related to the epidemiological characteristics of alexithymia among the elderly in China from inception to February 2021. Two reviewers independently screened literature, extracted data and assessed the risk of bias of included studies; meta-analysis was then performed using Stata 16.0 software.ResultsA total of 11 cross-sectional studies involving 3 592 elderly individuals were included. The results of meta-analysis showed that the prevalence of alexithymia in the Chinese elderly was 36% (95%CI 30% to 42%), and the score of alexithymia was 58.59 (95%CI 54.60 to 62.57). Subgroup analyses indicated that the prevalence of alexithymia was 39% (95%CI 32% to 45%) in northern China, 33% (95%CI 30% to 37%) in northeast China, 36% (95%CI 31% to 41%) in eastern China, 51% (95%CI 44% to 58%) in central China, and 20% (95%CI 16% to 24%) in the southwest China. The prevalence rates of hospitalized, nursing home, and community elderly were 42% (95%CI 34% to 49%), 37% (95%CI 28% to 45%), and 29% (95%CI 20% to 38%), respectively. The scores of alexithymia were higher among the elderly males, 80 years or older, engaged in heavy physical work prior to retirement, suffering from severer chronic diseases, low education background, low monthly income, living alone, and low frequency of participation in group activities and visited by relatives.ConclusionsCurrent evidence shows that the overall prevalence of alexithymia is high in the Chinese elderly, and varies with regions. The levels of alexithymia among gender, age, occupation prior to retirement, number of chronic diseases, educational level, monthly income, habitation manner, the frequency of participating in group activities, and being visited by relatives and friends are different.