International Comparative Performance of Mental Health Research, 1980-2011

Published in: European Neuropsychopharmacology, v. 23, no. 11, Nov. 2013, p. 1340-1347

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Vincent Larivière, Stephanie Diepeveen, Siobhan Ni Chonaill, Benoît Macaluso, Alexandra Pollitt, Jonathan Grant

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Scientific understanding of mental illness, mental health and their neurobiological and psychosocial underpinnings has greatly increased in the last three decades. Yet, little is known about the landscape of this knowledge and how and where it is evolving. This paper provides a bibliometric assessment of mental health research (MHR) outputs from 1980 to 2011. MHR papers were retrieved using three strategies: from key mental health journals; using US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) keywords; and from additional journals in which mental health topics accounted for over 75% of papers. The number of papers per year increased over time in absolute terms and as a proportion of total medical output. The US's proportion of world publication output dropped from 60% in 1980 to 42% in 2011, while the EU increased its share from 27% to 40%. Countries with greater research intensity in mental health generally had higher citation impact, such as the US, UK, Canada and the Netherlands. MHR also became more collaborative: 3% of all MHR papers published in 1980 were the result of international collaboration compared to 22% in 2011. We conclude by noting that the rise in MHR appears to be due to funding and that bibliometrics can help highlight the potential drivers of variation in performance of MHR systems. The paper provides an analytical basis for benchmarking MHR trends in the future.

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