Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 1727–1731 | Cite as

Mental health research in the Arab world

  • Doris Jaalouk
  • Ahmed Okasha
  • Mariana M. Salamoun
  • Elie G. KaramEmail author
Original Paper



To assess the progression of mental health research over four decades in the Arab world.


Publications on mental health in 21 Arab countries from 1966 to 2006 were screened using PubMed and Psychinfo. Data were collected and analyzed for Arab authors and affiliations, publication year, topic and type of journal.


In 40 years (1966–2005), the Arab world published 2,213 articles on a vast variety of topics, most common being mood, anxiety and substance use disorders, and mostly in international journals. By the last decade, the total yearly publications increased about eightfold since the first two decades, and nearly doubled from the third one. The disparity of output was high across countries. The highest yearly output was from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon. Per million population, the top four producing countries were Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates.


Over a decade, the Arab world produced approximately 17% of the global output of mental health publications/million population and was comparative to Latin American and Caribbean countries. There is a wide gap in comparison with the industrialized world, with a fertile ground for cross-cultural and genetic studies.


Arabs Mental health Research Productivity 



We would like to thank the Arab Federation of Psychiatrists for supporting in part the data collection for the writing of this article. Unrestricted grants from Janssen Cilag, Eli Lilly, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Hikma Pharm, Pfizer and Servier. In addition to Lundeck Institute, and Wyeth from Egypt.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    World Health Organization (2008) The global burden of disease: 2004 update. WHO Press, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    World Health Organization (2001) The World Health Report (2001) Mental health: new understanding, new hope. WHO Press, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Saxena A, Paraje G, Sharpan P, Karam G, Sadana R (2006) The 10/90 divide in mental health research: trends over a 10-year period. Br J Psychiatry 188:81–82PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Afifi M (2005) Mental health publications from the Arab world cited in PubMed, 1987–2002. East Mediterr Health J 11:319–328PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Takriti Y, El-Sayeh H, Adams C (2005) Internet-based search of randomized trials relevant to mental health originating in the Arab world. BMC Psychiatry 5:30–36PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Osman O, Afifi M (2010) Troubled minds in the Gulf: Mental health research in the United Arab Emirates (1989–2008). Asia Pac J Public Health 22:48S–53SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Karam E, Maalouf W (2001) Mental health research in the Arab speaking countries. In: Okasha A, Maj M (eds) Images in psychiatry: an Arab perspective. World Psychiatry Association Series, Cairo, pp 329–336Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Okasha A, Karam E (1998) Mental health services and research in the Arab world. Acta Psychiatr Scand 98:406–413PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    United Nations. (2008) Population Division of the Department of Economic & Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. World population prospects: the 2008 Revision Population Database. Accessed 10 October 2011
  10. 10.
    Sharifi V, Rahimi-Movaghar A, Mohammadi MR, Goodarzi RR, Izadian ES, Farhoudian A et al (2008) Analysis of mental health research in the Islamic Republic of Iran over 3 decades: a scientometric study. East Mediterr Health J 14:1060–1069PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Razzouk D, Gallo C, Olifson S, Zorzetto R, Fiestas F, Poletti G et al (2008) Challenges to reduce the 10/90 gap: mental health research in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Acta Psychiatr Scand 118:490–498PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Alhasnawi S, Sadik S, Rasheed M, Baban A, Al-Alak MM, Othman AY et al (2009) The prevalence and correlates of DSM-IV disorders in the Iraq Mental Health Survey (IMHS). World Psychiatry 8:97–109PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ghanem M, Gadallah M, Meky FA, Mourad S, El-Kholy G (2009) National survey of prevalence of mental disorders in Egypt: preliminary survey. East Mediterr Health J 15:65–75PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kadri N, Agoub M, Assouab F, Tazi MA, Didouh A, Stewart R et al (2010) Moroccan national study on prevalence of mental disorders: a community-based epidemiological study. Acta Psychiatr Scand 121:71–74PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Karam EG, Mneimneh ZN, Dimassi H, Fayyad JA, Karam AN, Nasser SC et al (2008) Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in Lebanon: first onset, treatment, and exposure to war. PLoS Med 5:e61PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Karam EG, Mneimneh ZN, Karam AN, Fayyad JA, Nasser SC, Chatterji S et al (2006) Prevalence and treatment of mental disorders in Lebanon: a national epidemiological survey. Lancet 367:1000–1006PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rachad H, Osman M, Roudi-Fahimi F (2005) Marriage in the Arab world. Population Reference Bureau, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Okasha A, Karam E, Okasha T (2011) Challenges of mental health services in the Arab world: a follow-up study. World Psychiatry 11:52–54Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doris Jaalouk
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ahmed Okasha
    • 3
  • Mariana M. Salamoun
    • 1
  • Elie G. Karam
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for Development Research Advocacy and Applied Care (IDRAAC)BeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Faculty of Nursing & Health SciencesNotre Dame University-LouaizeZouk MosbehLebanon
  3. 3.Okasha Institute of PsychiatryAin Shams UniversityCairoEgypt
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Clinical PsychologySt George Hospital University Medical CenterBeirutLebanon
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of MedicineBalamand UniversityBeirutLebanon

Personalised recommendations