Quality of life among people living with mental illness and predictors in Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Wondale Getinet Alemu, Clemence Due, Eimear Muir-Cochrane, Lillian Mwanri, Telake Azale, Anna Ziersch

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Introduction: Quality of life (QoL) of patients with mental illness has been examined internationally but to a lesser extent in developing countries, including countries in Africa. Improving QoL is vital to reducing disability among people with mental illness. Therefore, this systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to assess the prevalence of QoL and associated factors among people living with mental illness in Africa. 

Methods: Using the PICOT approach, Scopus, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, the Web of Science, and Google Scholar were searched. A structured search was undertaken, comprising terms associated with mental health, mental illness, QoL, and a list of all African countries. The Joanna Briggs Institute Quality Appraisal Checklist is used to evaluate research quality. Subgroup analysis with Country, domains of QoL, and diagnosis was tested using a random-effect model, and bias was assessed using a funnel plot and an inspection of Egger's regression test. A p value, OR, and 95% CI were used to demonstrate an association. 

Results: The pooled prevalence of poor QoL was 45.93% (36.04%, 55.83%), I 2 = 98.6%, p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis showed that Ethiopia (48.09%; 95% CI = 33.73, 62.44), Egypt (43.51%; 95% CI = 21.84, 65.18), and Nigeria (43.49%; 95% CI = 12.25, 74.74) had the highest mean poor QoL prevalence of the countries. The pooled prevalence of poor QoL by diagnosis was as follows: bipolar disorder (69.63%; 95% CI = 47.48, 91.77), Schizophrenia (48.53%; 95% CI = 29.97, 67.11), group of mental illnesses (40.32%; 95% CI = 23.98, 56.66), and depressive disorders (38.90%; 95% CI = 22.98, 54.81). Being illiterate (3.63; 95% CI = 2.35, 4.91), having a comorbid medical illness (4.7; 95% CI = 2.75, 6.66), having a low monthly income (3.62; 95% CI = 1.96, 5.27), having positive symptoms (0.32; 95% CI = 0.19, 0.55), and having negative symptoms (0.26; 95% CI = 0.16, 0.43) were predictors of QoL. Thus, some factors are significantly associated with pooled effect estimates of QoL. 

Conclusions: The current systematic review and meta-analysis showed that almost half of patients with mental illness had poor QoL. Being illiterate, having a comorbid medical condition, having a low monthly income, having positive symptoms, and having negative symptoms of mental illness were independent predictors of poor QoL. This systematic review and meta-analysis emphasize that poor QoL of people with mental illness in Africa needs attention to reduce its negative consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalQuality of Life Research
Early online date31 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2023


  • Africa
  • Mental disorder
  • Mental illness
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Quality of life


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