NYMC Faculty Publications

The State of Population Health Research Performance in the Middle East and North Africa: a Meta-Research Study

Author Type(s)


Journal Title

Systematic Reviews

First Page


Last Page


Document Type


Publication Date




Second Department

Family and Community Medicine


BACKGROUND: Population health (PH) research capacity and performance are essential pillars of evidence-based practice to help address health inequalities. Best evidence is provided by systematic reviews (SRs). None of the published bibliometric analysis specifically assess the production of SRs on PH in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The aim of our study is to investigate publication patterns and time trends of SRs reporting PH in the MENA region to evaluate the state of PH research performance in the region.

METHOD: The study protocol was developed a priori (protocol registration number: CRD42017076736). PubMed was searched. Two independent reviewers screened 5747 identified articles. We investigated author affiliation and collaboration, yearly citations of the SRs and journal information. Joinpoint regression was used to explore these characteristics overtime.

RESULTS: Our meta-research included 387 SRs published between 2008 and 2016 which reported data on PH in 20 MENA countries. Publication of SRs increased over time in journals with impact factor < 4 and in the categories of yearly number of citations < 50 (p values ≤ 0.0024). Authors belonging to the region published increasingly (p value = 0.0001) over time. Thirty percent of the SRs were from authors solely from the region, while an additional 30% were from the region collaborating with Western country authors. Of these collaborative reviews, 79% were led by authors from the region. However, collaboration in the region (with the exclusion of collaboration with Western country authors) was rare (0.8%). These authors from the region published more in open-access journals while authors from Western countries collaborating or not with authors from the region published more in hybrid or non-open-access journals (p value < 0.0001). Collaboration between authors from MENA and Western countries led to published SRs in journals with impact factor ≥ 10. Systematic reviews with global coverage were published more by authors from Western countries, while SRs with country-level coverage were published by authors from the region (p value < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION: The incremental trend of PH SR publications on MENA likely reflects the ongoing improvement in research performance in the region. Authors from the region appear to be taking a lead role in conducting and disseminating MENA PH research. Open-access journals are a major contributor in facilitating MENA research dissemination.