Ahreum Seo, Angela Y. Chang

A systematic review of the social impact of diseases in Nordic countries

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Medicine

Background: We review the literature on the social impacts of diseases, defined as the social consequences of having a disease on the people around the patient, such as spouses, caregivers and offspring. The two objectives of this study are to summarise the social outcomes commonly associated with diseases and to compare the social impact across a range of diseases. Methods: A systematic review of the social impact of disease in Nordic countries was conducted using PubMed, PsycINFO and Google Scholar (PROSPERO registration number CRD42022291796). All articles that met the inclusion criteria were reviewed. We tabulated all outcomes and diseases studied, and synthesised the evidence based on the perspectives of patients, spouse/caregiver and offspring. Results: A total of 135 studies met the eligibility criteria, covering 76 diseases and 39 outcomes. From the patient’s perspective, diseases impact divorce and marriage rates, social functioning, likelihood of committing a crime and being a victim of crime. From the caregiver’s perspective, diseases affect their health-related quality of life and physical and psychological health. From the offspring’s perspective, diseases impact their development, health and social adversities in later life. Diseases generally had negative social impacts, but there were some diseases associated with positive impacts. Conclusions: The review provides a useful summary and gross comparison of the social impact of different diseases. The social impact of diseases can be large and significant. Thus, it should be considered when policymakers are setting priorities across disease areas.

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