BMJ Global Health

Multimorbidity in African ancestry populations: a scoping review

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Objectives Multimorbidity (MM) is a growing concern linked to poor outcomes and higher healthcare costs. While most MM research targets European ancestry populations, the prevalence and patterns in African ancestry groups remain underexplored. This study aimed to identify and summarise the available literature on MM in populations with African ancestry, on the continent, and in the diaspora. Design A scoping review was conducted in five databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Science Direct and JSTOR) in July 2022. Studies were selected based on predefined criteria, with data extraction focusing on methodology and findings. Descriptive statistics summarised the data, and a narrative synthesis highlighted key themes. Results Of the 232 publications on MM in African-ancestry groups from 2010 to June 2022-113 examined continental African populations, 100 the diaspora and 19 both. Findings revealed diverse MM patterns within and beyond continental Africa. Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are predominant in both groups (80% continental and 70% diaspora). Infectious diseases featured more in continental studies (58% continental and 16% diaspora). Although many papers did not specifically address these features, as in previous studies, older age, being women and having a lower socioeconomic status were associated with a higher prevalence of MM, with important exceptions. Research gaps identified included limited data on African-ancestry individuals, inadequate representation, under-represented disease groups, non-standardised methodologies, the need for innovative data strategies, and insufficient translational research. Conclusion The growing global MM prevalence is mirrored in African-ancestry populations. Recognising the unique contexts of African-ancestry populations is essential when addressing the burden of MM. This review emphasises the need for additional research to guide and enhance healthcare approaches for African-ancestry populations, regardless of their geographic location.