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Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 7, Issue 3, 2004. Pages: 127-131

Published Online: 5 Sep 2004

Copyright © 2004 ICMPE.


 

Brief Report - Mental Health Research on Low- and Middle-Income Countries in Indexed Journals: a Preliminary Assessment

Shekhar Saxena,1* Pallab K. Maulik,2 Pratap Sharan,3 Izthak Levav,4 Benedetto Saraceno5

1M.D., M.R.C.Psy, Coordinator, Mental Health: Evidence and Research, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
2M.D., Mental Health: Evidence and Research, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
3M.D., Ph.D., Mental Health: Evidence and Research, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
4M.D., M.Sc, Consultant, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
5M.D., Director, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

* Correspondence to: Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Coordinator, Mental Health: Evidence and Research, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva 27, CH 1211, Switzerland.
Tel.: +41-22-791 3625
Fax: +41-22-791 4160
E-mail: saxenas@who.int

Source of Funding: The authors are WHO officials

Abstract

This study was aimed at examining whether mental health research publications on low- and middle-income countries (according to World Bank {2000} criteria) address issues relevant to public mental health. Four databases were searched for years 2000 and 2001 with subject headings related to mental disorders and mental health treatment and services. The title, index words and abstracts were reviewed. Results indicated that 55% of publications related to ten LAMI countries. One sixth of research publications addressed service/policy issues, but less than 1% were devoted to economic evaluation. Affective disorders, self-inflicted injuries and mental retardation were under-researched. Despite its limitations (use of a single rater, and inability to include all relevant databases), the study suggests that there is a need to focus research in LAMI countries on mental health conditions causing high burden that are currently under-researched (e.g. depression, mental retardation, self-inflicted injuries), policy and service issues, and mental health economics.

 
Background: Mental health research focused on low- and middle-income (LAMI) countries is needed in view of the burden of neuropsychiatric diseases and the deficiency of mental health resources in these countries.
Aims of the Study: To examine whether mental health research publications on LAMI countries address issues that are likely to influence public mental health.
Method: Four databases were searched for years 2000 and 2001 with subject headings related to mental disorders, mental health services, somatic therapies and psychotherapy. Countries were categorized into income groups according to World Bank (2000) criteria. The title, index words and abstracts were reviewed.
Results: Almost 55% of publications related to ten LAMI countries. One sixth of research publications related to services/policies, but less than 1% were devoted to economic evaluation. Affective disorders, self-inflicted injuries and mental retardation were under-researched.
Discussion: The geographic spread of internationally accessible mental health research publications is limited. Moreover, publications from LAMI countries often do not address public mental health issues. Use of a single rater might have led to some arbitrariness in classification of articles and some relevant articles would have been missed because of our inability to include all relevant databases.
Implications for Health Care Provision and Use: Sustained support by various stakeholders is needed for research that can inform mental health care provision and use in LAMI countries.
Implications for Health Policies: Scientific research can inform mechanisms that influence policy and public health if adequate attention is paid to dissemination of findings to end users.
Implications for Further Research: There is a need to focus research in LAMI countries on mental health conditions causing high burden that are currently under-researched (e.g. depression, mental retardation, self-inflicted injuries), policy and service issues, and mental health economics.


Received 4 March 2004; accepted 21 July 2004

Copyright 2004 ICMPE