February 2010
A global perspective on the dissemination of mental health research

As the Movement for Global Mental Health gains momentum (Aug 22, p 587),1 the striking under-representation of low-income and middle-income countries in published psychiatric research becomes evident.

In 2007, we did a survey in Medline and Web of Science to identify journals in psychiatry and their country of origin.2 We found 222 indexed publications; of these, 213 originated from high-income countries and only nine (4%) from middle-income countries. None was from a low-income country. Information obtained from the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) and the Global Forum for Health Research indicated the existence of another 118 unindexed psychiatric publications from low-income or middle-income countries. A WPA taskforce was appointed in 2008 to promote the dissemination of research from low-income and middle-income countries and is working together with journal editors3 to improve the quality of such publications and to strengthen their chances of being indexed.4

This year, we repeated the survey using the same strategy, paying particular interest to a follow-up of the unindexed publications from low-income and middle-income countries. We found that, in addition to the nine pre-existing indexed journals, four new publications were included in the databases: one from Brazil, two from South Africa, and one from Turkey. Also, three other journals that were indexed only in Medline 2 years ago are now part of the Web of Science database: one each from Croatia, Poland and Turkey. However, despite these inclusions, the proportion of journals from low-income and middle-income countries remains virtually unchanged (13 of 235 [5·5%]). The scarcity of indexed journals with a strong focus on low-income or middle-income countries still represents a major obstacle5 to the enhancement of the international and multicultural aspects of psychiatric research.

All authors are members of the World Psychiatric Association Publications Task Force for Research Dissemination.

*Christian Kieling, Helen Herrman, Vikram Patel, Peter Tyrer, Jair J. Mari
- Department of Psychiatry, Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS 90035-007, Brazil (CK)
- Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia (HH)
- Sangath Centre, Porvorim, Goa, India (VP)
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK (VP)
- Department of Psychological Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK (PT)
- Department of Psychiatry, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil (JJM)

1 The Lancet. Movement for global mental health gains momentum. Lancet 2009; 374: 587.

2 Kieling C., Herrman H., Patel V., Mari J. J. Indexation of psychiatric journals from low and middle-income countries: a survey and a case study. World Psychiatry 2009; 8: 40–44.

3 Mari J. J., Patel V., Kieling C., et al. The 5/95 gap on the dissemination of mental health research: The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) task force report on project with editors of low and middle-income (LAMI) countries. Afr. J. Psychiatry 2009; 12: 33–39.

4 Mari JJ, Patel V, Kieling C, et al. The 5/95 gap in the indexation of psychiatric journals of low- and middle-income countries. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2009; published online Sept 18. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2009.01476.x.

5 Razzouk D, Gallo C, Olifson S, et al. Challenges to reduce the "10⁄90 gap": Mental health research in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2008; 6: 490–98.




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