Multimorbidity of non-communicable diseases in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis

OA Asogwa, D Boateng, A Marzà-Florensa, S Peters, N Levitt, J van Olmen, K Klipstein-Grobusch

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


Introduction Multimorbidity is a major public health challenge, with a rising prevalence in low/middle-income countries (LMICs). This review aims to systematically synthesise evidence on the prevalence, patterns and factors associated with multimorbidity of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among adults residing in LMICs.

Methods We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of articles reporting prevalence, determinants, patterns of multimorbidity of NCDs among adults aged >18 years in LMICs. For the PROSPERO registered review, we searched PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane libraries for articles published from 2009 till 30 May 2020. Studies were included if they reported original research on multimorbidity of NCDs among adults in LMICs.

Results The systematic search yielded 3272 articles; 39 articles were included, with a total of 1 220 309 participants. Most studies used self-reported data from health surveys. There was a large variation in the prevalence of multimorbidity; 0.7%–81.3% with a pooled prevalence of 36.4% (95% CI 32.2% to 40.6%). Prevalence of multimorbidity increased with age, and random effect meta-analyses showed that female sex, OR (95% CI): 1.48, 1.33 to 1.64, being well-off, 1.35 (1.02 to 1.80), and urban residence, 1.10 (1.01 to 1.20), respectively were associated with higher odds of NCD multimorbidity. The most common multimorbidity patterns included cardiometabolic and cardiorespiratory conditions.

Conclusion Multimorbidity of NCDs is an important problem in LMICs with higher prevalence among the aged, women, people who are well-off and urban dwellers. There is the need for longitudinal data to access the true direction of multimorbidity and its determinants, establish causation and identify how trends and patterns change over time.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere049133
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Epidemiology
  • Primary care
  • Public health


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