The role of digital health in palliative care for people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review


BACKGROUND: In 2018, 26.6 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Palliative care services are recommended for people living with HIV at all stages from diagnosis through to end-of-life. However, the provision of palliative care in sub-Saharan Africa is limited, leading to little or no access for the majority of patients. Digital technologies in sub-Saharan Africa present an opportunity to improve access to palliative care for people living with HIV in the region. This review synthesised literature on digital health interventions for palliative care for people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and assessed their effects on patient outcomes. METHODS: Literature searches were conducted in MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO and Global Health. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. Two independent reviewers conducted study screening, data extraction and quality appraisal. A narrative synthesis was performed to draw together and report findings across heterogeneous studies. Reporting of this review follows the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis checklist. RESULTS: Out of 4117 records, 25 studies were included, covering 3592 people living with HIV, across 21 countries. Studies included three randomised controlled trials, three qualitative, three pre- and post-test, two observational, two case series, six cross-sectional and six mixed methods studies. Telemedicine was the most reported digital health intervention, with 12 studies demonstrating the effectiveness of digital health interventions. CONCLUSION: Emerging evidence suggests digital health interventions can be effective in facilitating patient-provider communication and health professional decision-making as a part of palliative care for people living with HIV. There is a need for further development and evaluation of digital health interventions alongside determining optimal approaches to their implementation as a part of palliative care provision in sub-Saharan Africa.


Mwase C, Nkhoma K, Allsop MJ




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Health services
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


Abstract/Full paper

Email 1 selected articles

Email 1 selected articles

Error! The email wasn't sent. Please try again.

Your email has been sent!