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Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Oct;195(4):354-63. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.050187.

Mental health research priorities in low- and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110029, India.



Studies suggest a paucity of and lack of prioritisation in mental health research from low- and middle-income (LAMI) countries.


To investigate research priorities in mental health among researchers and other stakeholders in LAMI countries.


We used a two-stage design that included identification, through literature searches and snowball technique, of researchers and stakeholders in 114 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean; and a mail survey on priorities in research.


The study identified broad agreement between researchers and stakeholders and across regions regarding research priorities. Epidemiology (burden and risk factors), health systems and social science ranked highest for type of research. Depression/anxiety, substance use disorders and psychoses; and children and adolescents, women, and people exposed to violence/trauma were prioritised among the disorders and population groups respectively. Important criteria for prioritising research were burden of disease, social justice, and availability of funds. Stakeholder groups differed in the importance they gave to the personal interest of researchers as a criterion for prioritising research. Researchers' and stakeholders' priorities were consistent with burden of disease estimates, however suicide was underprioritised compared with its burden. Researchers' and stakeholders' priorities were also largely congruent with the researchers' projects.


The results of this first ever conducted survey of researchers and stakeholders regarding research priorities in mental health suggest that it should be possible to develop consensus at regional and international levels regarding the research agenda that is necessary to support health system objectives in LAMI countries.

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