Document Type



Kinesiology & Health Sciences

Journal Title

BMJ Open

Pub Date




First Page


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Objective Various studies have been published to better understand the underlying spatial and temporal dynamics of COVID-19. This review sought to identify different spatial and spatio-temporal modelling methods that have been applied to COVID-19 and examine influential covariates that have been reportedly associated with its risk in Africa.

Design Systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.

Data sources Thematically mined keywords were used to identify refereed studies conducted between January 2020 and February 2022 from the following databases: PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE via Proquest, CINHAL via EBSCOhost and Coronavirus Research Database via ProQuest. A manual search through the reference list of studies was also conducted.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Peer-reviewed studies that demonstrated the application of spatial and temporal approaches to COVID-19 outcomes.

Data extraction and synthesis A standardised extraction form based on critical appraisal and data extraction for systematic reviews of prediction modelling studies checklist was used to extract the meta-data of the included studies. A validated scoring criterion was used to assess studies based on their methodological relevance and quality.

Results Among 2065 hits in five databases, title and abstract screening yielded 827 studies of which 22 were synthesised and qualitatively analysed. The most common socioeconomic variable was population density. HIV prevalence was the most common epidemiological indicator, while temperature was the most common environmental indicator. Thirteen studies (59%) implemented diverse formulations of spatial and spatio-temporal models incorporating unmeasured factors of COVID-19 and the subtle influence of time and space. Cluster analyses were used across seven studies (32%) to explore COVID-19 variation and determine whether observed patterns were random.

Conclusion COVID-19 modelling in Africa is still in its infancy, and a range of spatial and spatio-temporal methods have been employed across diverse settings.