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By 2030, the global Muslim population is expected to reach 2.2 billion people. The representations of Islam and Muslims in the media and academic literature may unconsciously impact how clinicians perceive and approach their Muslim patients. Our study focuses on the emerging Muslim mental health (MMH) literature using bibliometric analysis, specifically social network analysis of word co-occurrence and co-authorship networks of academic publications, to describe how the content of MMH discourse is evolving.
We conducted an Ovid search (including Medline and PsycInfo databases) to identify articles written in English from 2000 to 2015 that had the terms ‘Islam’ and/or ‘Muslim’ in the abstract as well as research conducted in Muslim-majority countries and among Muslim minorities in the rest of the world.
Of the 2652 articles on MMH, the majority (65.6%) focused on describing psychopathology; the minority (11.2%) focused on issues around stigma, religiosity, spirituality, identity, or acculturation. Among the top 15 most frequent terms in abstracts were ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’, ‘violence’, ‘fear’, ‘trauma’, and ‘war’. Social network analysis showed there was little collaborative work across regions.
The challenges of producing MMH research are similar to the challenges faced across global mental health research. Much of the MMH research reflects regional challenges such as the impact of conflict and violence on mental health. Continued efforts to develop global mental health researchers through cross-cultural exchanges, academic journals' dedicated sections and programs for global mental health recruitment, and online training are needed to address the gap in research and collaborations.