The International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation

Peruvian Scientific Production on Mental Health in Scopus, 2010-2018

Yolvi Ocaña-Fernández1
Isabel Menacho Vargas1
Luis Núñez Lira1
Flor de María Sánchez Aguirre1
Rafael Garay-Argandoña2
Ronald M. Hernández3
Karel Llopiz Guerra4

1Universidad César Vallejo, Lima, Perú
2Universidad de San Martín de Porres, Lima, Perú
3Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, Lima, Perú
4Universidad Central "Marta Abreu" de Las Villas, Villa Clara, Cuba


Hernández RM (2020)  Peruvian Scientific Production on Mental Health in Scopus, 2010-2018.
International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Vol 23 (1)


The study describes the characteristics of the publications on mental health written by Peruvian authors in journals indexed in Scopus during the 2010-2018 period. A descriptive and retrospective analysis of 199 articles is conducted. Any kind of publication that does not present the IMRAD structure is excluded. The Peruvian scientific production accounts for 0.09% of the global production and it ranks sixth in Latin America. Most articles are published in the Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental y Salud Pública (Peruvian Journal of Experimental Medicine and Public Health), followed by Lancet and PLos One. In addition, 43.6% of authors are affiliated mainly with the Cayetano Heredia University, followed by the National University of San Marcos (8.8%) and the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (8.3%). Besides, 34.2% of the published articles show psychosocial problems as the subject of study, while 65.8% of them account for the topic of mental and behavioral disorders, both topics are considered as the main health problem in Peru. It is concluded that the scientific production on mental health is poor. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen and stimulate the generation and dissemination of scientific studies by Peruvian researchers.

Key words: Scientific production, Mental health, Research, Scientific journals, Peru



According to the definition proposed by WHO (2001), metal health refers to the state of well-being that allows a human being to bring out its potential and face life’s difficulties (Hernández & Alhuay, 2017). The aforementioned definition refers to the fact that mental health problems make it difficult for people to become what they want to be, they do not allow them to overcome everyday obstacles and to move forward with their life project, and lead to lack of productivity (Rondón, 2006).

In Peru, high rates of mental health morbidity are known. It is estimated that one out of five people present symptoms of a significant mental disorder each year (National Institute of Mental Health, 2013). In addition, only one-fifth of them have the possibility to have access to a health system (Saavedra, 2014). Other epidemiological studies on mental health in Peru report the difference between urban and rural residents, where only 15% to 25% received at some point a type of mental health treatment (National Institute of Mental Health, 2002). In addition, the shortage of human resources and infrastructure limits the access to mental health services. Thus, in Lima, only 24.5% of the total population who recognize that they have suffered mental health problems, had access to health services. In case of the Highlands and Jungle regions, the percentage was significantly lower, 13.9% and 14.3% respectively (National Institute of Mental Health, 2003; 2004).

During 2013-2018 period, innovations were developed in mechanisms of financing and public management of mental health that have allowed the implementation of new mental health facilities (Community Mental Health Centers and Protected Homes) that unlike hospitals, contribute to the increased access to mental health services (Piazza, & Fiestas, 2015; Castillo-Martell, & Cutipé-Cárdenas, 2019). In June 2019, the Law on Mental Health was published in the Official Gazette El Peruano, which established the legal framework in order to guarantee the access to mental health services, promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, as conditions for the fully exercise of the right to health and well-being of the population. The new law, both in its general principles and in the Determination of Disorders in Especially Vulnerable Population, specifies the need to provide a different care to ethnic minorities, those displaced due to internal violence and victims of the terrorist violence.

Scientific productivity indicators express the knowledge resulting from the intellectual work by means of scientific research that contributes to the development of science as a social activity (Piedra & Martínez, 2007). Additionally, scientific publications are repositories of documentary knowledge and are the main way to transmit said knowledge (Notario De La Torre, 2004; Piedra & Martínez, 2007). One of the productivity indicators of the research works is the number of research works that have been published in indexed journals (Rojas-Revoredo, 2007).

The objective of this study is to describe the Peruvian scientific production on mental health in journals indexed in Scopus from 2010 to 2018.


The descriptive and retrospective study considered as a unit of analysis 199 articles about mental health in journals indexed in Scopus during the 2010 – 2018 period, and its author mentions affiliations with Peruvian institutions. Original articles were only included in the analysis, excluding any type of publication that does not have the IMRAD structure. For the search for articles, those keywords related to mental health were used in "Title", "abstract" and in "keywords. In addition, they were included in the controlled vocabulary Thesaurus such as: “Mental Health”, “Mental Stress”, “Personality Disorders”, “Mental Diseases”, “Mental Disorders”, “Neuroses”, “Psychoses”, “Psychiatry” and “Psychopathology”. The frequency of publications per year, the affiliation of authors, the journal and country were evaluated. Each one of the publications found was reviewed and those that meet the criteria of mental health research as well as of content were selected.


Based on 199 articles identified in the studied period and the inclusion criteria, it can be observed that since 2014, the number of articles on mental health published by Peruvian authors have significantly increased, with 2018 being the year with the highest scientific production (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Evolution of the scientific production on mental health of Peruvian authors, 2010 – 2018.

Articles published with Peruvian authors have been published mostly in the Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimentaly Salud Pública (Peruvian Journal of Experimental Medicine and Public Health) with 23 articles on mental health indexed in Scopus. The other journals evaluated are foreign and in each one, there are from one to six publications about the topic. However, the foreign journals show a better H index as an impact factor (see Table 1).

Table 1: Scientific Journals in which Peruvian authors have published mental health articles.




H Index

Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental y Salud Pública (Peruvian Journal of Experimental Medicine and Public Health)





United Kingdom



Plos One

United States of America



Psychological Medicine

United Kingdom



AIDS and Behavior




Revista Chilena de Neuro Psiquiatria (Chilean Journal of Neuropsychiatry)




Journal of Psychosomatic Research




Revista Latinoamericana de Psicopatología Fundamental (Latin American Journal of Fundamental Psychopathology)




Salud Pública de México (Public Health of Mexico)




Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology




16 journals with 2 articles




108 journals with 1 article




Among the Peruvian institutions with which the author have been affiliated are the Cayetano Heredia University (43.6%), followed by National University of San Marcos and the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences. There are few affiliations with public health institutions. However, the most common affiliations are the affiliations with the National Health Institute (14 affiliations), with the Cayetano Heredia Hospital and the National Institute of Mental Health Honorio Delgado-Hideyo Noguchi (eight affiliations each). It is worth mentioning that the headquarters of all the institutions is the department of Lima, capital of Peru, observing that publications are concentrated in this department (Table 2).

Table 2: Affiliations of Peruvian authors in published articles on mental health.





Cayetano Heredia University




National University of San Marcos




Peruvian University of Applied Sciences




CRONICAS Center of Excellence in Chronic Diseases




National Institute of Health, Lima




Pontifical Catholic University of Peru




San Martín de Porres University




Cayetano Heredia National Hospital




National Institute of Mental Health Honorio Delgado-Hideyo Noguchi




Ministry of Health, Lima




PROESA non-profit organization




The global production on mental health is represented by 233339 (two hundred thirty-three thousand three hundred thirty-nine) articles published in the period studied. Peru accounts for 0.09 % of this production, represented by 199 articles (see Table 3), while the Latin America community accounts for 4.47 %, and Peru ranks sixth with respect to production (see Figure 2).

Table 3: Peruvian scientific production on mental health compared to Latin American and global production.







Latin America






Figure 2: Articles on mental health published in Latin America from 2010 to 2018.

Based on the mental health problems that have been identified in the Peruvian context, it is clear that 34.2% of published articles are focused on the research on psychosocial problems, highlighting topics such as emotional deficiencies; stereotyped gender role learning; loss of values and loss of the sense of what is right or wrong; family, community and social disintegration; stigma and discrimination. While 65.8% of them are focused on research on mental and behavioral disorders, highlighting anxiety disorder, stress, dementia, depression, psychosis, among others.


The study shows a similar result to that found by Luna (2015), in which the scientific production on mental health in journals indexed in Scopus, between 2011 and 2013, accounts for 0.06% of the global scientific production. Additionally, Vega-Dienstmaier (2011) found that between 2011 and 2010, the scientific production on mental health, in our environment, contributes only with 0.03%. Although the numbers can be discouraging and considered lower compared to a larger number of global publications, the Peruvian scientific production on mental health has been increasing progressively.

In comparison with Latin American countries, we rank sixth with respect to scientific production, results that have not changed. According to Luna (2015), Brazil and Chile are South American countries that have more participation in the publication of articles about mental health. This could respond to the interest of their governments and the GDP percentage assigned to the research and development projects in Latin America.

The Peruvian Journal of Experimental Medicine and Public Health has been the one that has published more articles of authors with Peruvian affiliation, and the other journals are from foreign publishing houses, similar results are found in Luna (2015), Vega-Dienstmaier (2011) and Taype-Rondán, Lajo-Aurazo, and Huamaní, (2012). The same institutional affiliation indicators were evaluated in both studies, being the Cayetano Heredia University the institution with the largest number of publications. Moreover, the infrequent participation in research of the mental health hospitals and institutes draws the attention. In addition, all the institutions found are in Lima, capital of Peru.

One of the most researched topics in the articles published is mental and behavioral disorders, similar results to those found by Taype-Rondán, Lajo-Aurazo, and Huamaní, (2012), who conducted a bibliometric study about scientific production of mental disorders in journals included in the SciELO Perú collection. It was found that the most discussed topic was unipolar depression (43.1%), followed by the abuse of substances (25.5%). In Colombia, Estrada and Cristancho, in 2014, conducted a study on the access to scientific information about mental health in its system of libraries, and it was found that 14% of the articles addressed topics about mental disorders.

In Peru, a culture based on scientific research has not yet been consolidated (Cabezas, 2010). Not only is it necessary to increase the number of research works, but their publications in indexed journals and their subsequent dissemination must be guaranteed in order to achieve social well-being and impact, and the development of research works that would result in sanitary policies and practices (Taype-Rondán, Lajo-Aurazo & Huamaní, 2012).

The explanations that could be given about the shortage of research works on mental health and other topics of social interest are the investment in research, the lack of project financing, human resources, and poor academic and professional recognition for the commitment to research, which may be changing due to the establishment of the new Peruvian University Law.

Finally, the Peruvian scientific production about mental health, although it is poor, it has been increasing during the last years. However, as long as there are still limitations for the investment in research, and a poor system in author collaboration network, we will continue with low indicators of scientific production on mental health, despite the social and public health importance that this topic deserves.

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