Rheumatology research output in the Arab World: despite the challenges

Reumatismo. 2022 Dec 29;74(3). doi: 10.4081/reumatismo.2022.1520.


Rheumatology is a field in which diagnostic, pathophysiological, and therapeutic advancements occur daily. These developments are the result of research in basic sciences, translational sciences, and clinical sciences. Physical and financial support, provided by individuals and institutions, is essential for all types of research. The political and economic instability in the Arab world has impacted the advancement of healthcare and the output of research. This review seeks to evaluate the quantity and quality of rheumatology-related research conducted in the Arab world. This review examined the number of rheumatological clinical publications produced by Arab countries between 2017 and 2021 and cited by PubMed/MEDLINE. Publications with authors from multiple nations were disqualified. Publications were then categorized by type, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs), cohort studies, cross-sectional studies, systematic reviews, narrative reviews, and case reports. Publications were also organized according to the regions of the Arab world: North and East Africa, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula. The review also used data from the world bank to evaluate the gross domestic product (GDP) and total population of Arabian nations in order to calculate a ratio of publications to GDP and publications to population. Egypt had the highest number of publications among north and east African countries and Arab countries in general, with 261 publications, including the highest number of RCTs, which were 23. With 81 publications, Saudi Arabia had the highest number of publications on the Arabian peninsula. However, no individual country on the Arabian peninsula published an RCT. Lebanon had the most publications in the Middle East, but the majority were reviews and case reports. Tunisia had the highest ratio of publications to GDP. Notably, the number of publications increased during the coronavirus disease 2019 era in some countries. The Arab world is still able to produce clinical rheumatology publications despite its political instability and lack of resources. The influence of such publications on the daily practice of rheumatology is still debatable.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arab World
  • Bibliometrics
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Middle East / epidemiology
  • Rheumatology*