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Is Traumatic Stress Research Global? A Bibliometric Analysis


Is Traumatic Stress Research Global? A Bibliometric Analysis

Kinga E Fodor et al. Eur J Psychotraumatol.


Background: The representation of low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) in traumatic stress research is important to establish a global evidence base, build research capacity, and reduce the burden of unmet mental health needs around the world. Reviews of the traumatic stress literature up to 2002 showed trends toward globalization although LMIC were only marginally represented compared to high-income countries (HIC).

Objective: To examine the global nature of current traumatic stress research. In particular, we were interested in the extent to which traumatic stress research is: (1) conducted in LMIC, (2) conducted by LMIC researchers, and (3) accessible to them.

Method: Using the databases PubMed, PsychInfo, and PILOTS, we systematically searched for peer-reviewed articles on traumatic stress published in any language in the year 2012. Out of the 3,123 unique papers identified, we coded a random sample (N=1,000) for study, author, article, and journal characteristics.

Results: Although our sample involved research in 56 different countries, most papers (87%) involved research in HIC, with 51% of all papers describing studies in the United States. In 88% of the papers, the author team was affiliated with HIC only. Less than 5% of all author teams involved collaborations between HIC and LMIC researchers. Moreover, 45% of the articles on LMIC studies published by a HIC corresponding author did not involve any LMIC co-authors. LMIC researchers appeared to publish empirical studies in lower impact journals. Of the 1,000 articles in our sample, 32% were open access and 10% were made available via different means; over half of the papers were not accessible without subscription.

Conclusions: Traumatic stress research is increasingly global but still strongly dominated by HIC. Important opportunities to build capacity in LMIC appear to be missed. Implications toward more international traumatic stress research are discussed.

Keywords: Bibliometric analysis; capacity building; global mental health; low- and middle-income countries; posttraumatic stress disorder; systematic review; traumatic stress research.

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