Skip to main content

Free Content Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review [Review article]

Download Article:
(PDF 271.71875 kb)


BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major global health problem. Although COPD is the sixth most common cause of mortality in low- and middle-income countries, most research comes from high-income countries. We set out to systematically review existing published research on COPD in sub-Saharan Africa to identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for further research.

METHODS: A literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) databases, published reviews, reference lists from included publications and abstracts from major thoracic medicine conference proceedings within the previous 2 years was performed using a protocol-driven search strategy. Texts were screened for inclusion by two independent reviewers. Studies were included if they met the following criteria: 1) COPD was an outcome, and 2) the population included people from sub-Saharan Africa. There were no language restrictions.

FINDINGS: Our search identified 688 studies: 41 were duplicates, 638 were excluded, and 9 met our inclusion criteria. Included studies were all cross-sectional, and included 3673 people from four sub-Saharan African countries. Estimates of COPD prevalence varied between 4% and 25%. Only one study used population-based representative sampling and an adequate case definition. Assessment of risk factors was limited.

CONCLUSIONS: There is little existing research on COPD in sub-Saharan Africa. Prevalence estimates varied, reflecting the range of populations studied, inconsistent diagnostic criteria and variable methods and methodological quality. Population-representative studies using appropriate case definitions are needed to define the epidemiology of COPD in sub-Saharan Africa and to inform the development of prevention and management strategies for the future.

Keywords: Africa; Africa South of the Sahara; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; epidemiology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Malawi College of Medicine, Malawi 2: Royal Brompton and Harefield National Health Service Trust, London, UK 3: Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, Nottingham University, Nottingham, UK 4: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK

Publication date: 2013-05-01

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
  • Public Health Action
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more