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Mental health disorders research in Europe, 2001–2018

Abstract

Background The burden of mental health disorders in Europe is well above the world average and has increased from 11.5% to 13.9% of the total disease burden in 2000 and 2015. That from dementia has increased rapidly, and overtaken that from depression as the leading component. There have been no analyses of the research activity in Europe to combat this burden.

Methodology We identified research papers in the Web of Science (WoS) with a complex mental health disorders filter based on title words and journal names in the years 2001-18, and downloaded their details for analysis.

Results European mental health disorders research represented less than 6% of the total biomedical research. We estimate that research expenditure in Europe on mental health disorders amounted to about €5.4 billion in 2018. The Scandinavian countries, with Croatia and Estonia, published the most relative to their wealth, but the outputs of France and Romania were less than half the amounts expected.

Discussion and conclusions The burden from mental health disorders is increasing rapidly in Europe, but research was only half what would have been proportional. Suicide & self-harm, and alcohol misuse, were also neglected by researchers, particularly since the latter also causes many physical burdens, such as foetal alcohol syndrome, interpersonal violence, and road traffic accidents. Other relatively neglected subjects are sexual disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity and sleep disorders. There is an increasing volume of research on alternative (non-drug) therapies, particularly for post-traumatic stress and eating disorders, notably in Germany.

  • psychiatry
  • adult psychiatry

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