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
Pages (from-to)1191-1209
Number of pages19
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number5
Early online date31 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


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


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