Disparity of publication esteem in mental compared with physical health, and disparities within psychiatry.

We have published a paper describing our analysis of the rates of mental health articles in the most influential medical research journals  in comparison with physical health.

We identified four major medical disciplines were identified (psychiatry, cardiology, oncology, respiratory illnesses), and their relative burden estimated. All publications from the highest impact general medical journals in 2001, 2006 and 2011 were thus categorised. The frequency of articles from each medical discipline were compared with the expected proportion (given illness burdens). 6 sub-specialities within psychiatry were also compared. Our results strongly demonstrate a vast under-representation of psychiatry compared to cardiology, oncology and respiratory illness. We also see that within mental health dementia and psychosis studies are relatively over-represented compared to other areas, with an unspecified ‘other’ group that included personality disorders, eating disorders, developmental disorders and transdiagnostic research showing deficits in research publications.

We conclude that this finding is new evidence for a disparity of esteem between mental and physical health at the research level. If steps can be taken towards attaining a greater parity of publication (PoP) this provides a potential gateway for bottom-up progression towards equivalent treatment to mental and physical health.

See Publications for further details of the paper. We are planning an extension of this project to further explore sources of this disparity.