Global prevalence of polypharmacy among the COVID-19 patients: A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Hooman Ghasemi, Niloofar Darvishi, Nader Salari, Amin Hosseinian Far, Hakimeh Akbari, Masoud Mohammadi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Polypharmacy has traditionally been defined in various texts as the use of 5 or more chronic drugs, the use of inappropriate drugs, or drugs that are not clinically authorized. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of polypharmacy among the COVID-19 patients, and the side effects, by systematic review and meta-analysis.

METHODS: This study was performed by systematic review method and in accordance with PRISMA 2020 criteria. The protocol in this work is registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021281552). Particular databases and repositories have been searched to identify and select relevant studies. The quality of articles was assessed based on the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale checklist. Heterogeneity of the studies was measured using the I 2 test.

RESULTS: The results of meta-analysis showed that the prevalence of polypharmacy in 14 studies with a sample size of 189,870 patients with COVID-19 is 34.6% (95% CI: 29.6-40). Studies have shown that polypharmacy is associated with side effects, increased morbidity and mortality among patients with COVID-19. The results of meta-regression analysis reported that with increasing age of COVID-19 patients, the prevalence of polypharmacy increases (p < 0.05).

DISCUSSION: The most important strength of this study is the updated search to June 2022 and the use of all databases to increase the accuracy and sensitivity of the study. The most important limitation of this study is the lack of proper definition of polypharmacy in some studies and not mentioning the number of drugs used for patients in these studies.

CONCLUSION: Polypharmacy is seen in many patients with COVID-19. Since there is no definitive cure for COVID-19, the multiplicity of drugs used to treat this disease can affect the severity of the disease and its side effects as a result of drug interactions. This highlights the importance of controlling and managing prescription drugs for patients with COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalTropical Medicine and Health
Issue number1
Early online date31 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).


  • Covid-19
  • Increased Morbidity And Mortality
  • Meta-analysis
  • Polypharmacy
  • Prevalence


Dive into the research topics of 'Global prevalence of polypharmacy among the COVID-19 patients: A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this