Factors associated with catastrophic health expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review


OBJECTIVE: A non-negligible proportion of sub-Saharan African (SSA) households experience catastrophic costs accessing healthcare. This study aimed to systematically review the existing evidence to identify factors associated with catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) incidence in the region. METHODS: We searched PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, CNKI, Africa Journal Online, SciELO, PsycINFO, and Web of Science, and supplemented these with search of grey literature, pre-publication server deposits, Google ScholarAr, and citation tracking of included studies. We assessed methodological quality of included studies using the Appraisal tool for Cross-Sectional Studies for quantitative studies and the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklist for qualitative studies; and synthesized study findings according to the guidelines of the Economic and Social Research Council. RESULTS: We identified 82 quantitative, 3 qualitative, and 4 mixed-methods studies involving 3,112,322 individuals in 650,297 households in 29 SSA countries. Overall, we identified 29 population-level and 38 disease-specific factors associated with CHE incidence in the region. Significant population-level CHE-associated factors were rural residence, poor socioeconomic status, absent health insurance, large household size, unemployed household head, advanced age (elderly), hospitalization, chronic illness, utilization of specialist healthcare, and utilization of private healthcare providers. Significant distinct disease-specific factors were disability in a household member for NCDs; severe malaria, blood transfusion, neonatal intensive care, and distant facilities for maternal and child health services; emergency surgery for surgery/trauma patients; and low CD4-count, HIV and TB co-infection, and extra-pulmonary TB for HIV/TB patients. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple household and health system level factors need to be addressed to improve financial risk protection and healthcare access and utilization in SSA.


Eze P, Lawani LO, Agu UJ, Amara LU, Okorie CA, Acharya Y




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Housing
    • Employment
    • Income
    • Health services
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Health Systems
    • Financial arrangements


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