Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original research
COPD in Africa: risk factors, hospitalisation, readmission and associated outcomes—a systematic review and meta-analysis


Background This review aims to synthesise available evidence on the prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), associated risk factors, hospitalisations and COPD readmissions in Africa.

Method Using the Met-Analyses and Systematic Reviews of Observational Studies guideline, electronic databases were searched from inception to 1 October 2021. The quality of studies was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Evidence from retrieved articles was synthesised, and a random-effect model meta-analysis was conducted. The protocol was registered on PROSPERO.

Results Thirty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria, with 13 included in the meta-analysis. The prevalence of COPD varied between the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (2%–24%), American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society (1%–17%) and Medical Research Council chronic bronchitis (2%–11%) criteria, respectively. Increasing age, wheezing and asthma were consistent risk factors for COPD from studies included in the narrative synthesis. Our meta-analysis indicated that prior tuberculosis ((OR 5.98, 95% CI 4.18 to 8.56), smoking (OR 2.80, 95% CI: 2.19 to 3.59) and use of biomass fuel (OR 1.52, 95% CI: 1.39 to 1.67)) were significant risk factors for COPD. Long-term oxygen therapy (HR 4.97, 95% CI (1.04 to 23.74)) and frequent hospitalisation (≥3 per year) (HR 11.48, 95% CI (1.31 to 100.79)) were risk factors associated with 30-day COPD readmission.

Conclusion This study not only highlights specific risk factors for COPD risk in Africa but also demonstrates the paucity and absence of research in several countries in a continent with substantial COPD-related mortality. Our findings contribute towards the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines for COPD in Africa.

PROSPERO registration number


  • long term oxygen therapy (LTOT)
  • tuberculosis
  • COPD exacerbations
  • COPD epidemiology

Data availability statement

No data are available. ‘Not applicable’.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles