Medical Definition of Syndemic

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Syndemic: A set of linked health problems involving two or more afflictions, interacting synergistically, and contributing to excess burden of disease in a population. Syndemics occur when health-related problems cluster by person, place, or time. For example, the SAVA syndemic is comprised of substance abuse, violence, and AIDS, three conditions that disproportionately afflict those living in poverty in US cities. To prevent a syndemic, one must prevent or control not only each affliction but also the forces that tie those afflictions together. From syn-, together + (epi)-demic.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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