Suicidal behaviors and associated factors among medical students in Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Kaggwa, M.M., Najjuka, S.M., Favina, A., Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524 and Mamun, M.A., 2023. Suicidal behaviors and associated factors among medical students in Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, 11: 100456. ISSN 2666-9153

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Background: Suicide behaviors are common among medical students, and the prevalence rates might vary across various regions. Even though various systematic reviews have been conducted to assess suicidal behaviors among medical students in general, no review has ever assessed or carried out a sub-analysis to show the burden of suicidal behaviors among African medical students which was fulfilled in the present study.

Method: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence studies among African medical students from PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO, African Journals Online, and Google Scholar databases. A total of 204 publications were identified. The studies' selection, data extraction, and methodological evaluation were performed, and meta-analysis was performed based on the random effects model.

Results: Data were obtained from 14 eligible studies, including 8585 medical students in Africa. The pooled prevalence of lifetime suicidal behaviors was 18.7% for suicidal ideation (95% CI: 14.1%-23.3; I 2 = 94.37%; p < 0.001), 3.8% for suicidal plans (95% CI: 2.7%-4.8%; I 2 = 0.03%; p < 0.001), and 5.5% for suicide attempts (95% CI: 3.8%-7.2%; I 2 = 89.47%; p < 0.001). The factors associated with suicidal ideations were female gender, use of alcohol, depression, and use of khat. Only depression was associated with suicide attempts.

Limitations: The review involved few studies, and not all African regions were represented.

Conclusion: Suicidal behaviors, particularly suicide attempts, are high among medical students in Africa. However, very few studies are done in the region to clearly quantify the burden and its associated factors.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Affective Disorders Reports
Creators: Kaggwa, M.M., Najjuka, S.M., Favina, A., Griffiths, M.D. and Mamun, M.A.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: January 2023
Volume: 11
ISSN: 2666-9153
Rights: © 2022 the author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 16 Dec 2022 15:42
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 15:42

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