Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 22 Jul 2021

A syndemic is a relatively novel concept in epidemiology, referring to the simultaneous occurrence and synergy of two or more diseases or conditions in a large population in a social context that aggravates them.

A syndemic is usually confined to a certain geographical area at a certain time and often brought about by changes in cultural, political and/or economic patterns e.g. globalization and poverty might change dietary patterns in a population which bring about more obesity, diabetes and depression in that population.

Syndemics may involve infectious and/or or non-communicable diseases and/or conditions e.g. the SAVA syndemic of substance abuse, violence and HIV/AIDS and often occur in specific social or ethnic groups inside a country or group of countries.

History and etymology

The term syndemic is a portmanteau of synergy and epidemic. The term is credited to medical anthropologist Merrill Singer (fl. 2020) who developed the concept in the mid-1990s, focusing his attention on the social conditions that created such phenomena.

See also

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