Substance use disorders, which include substance abuse and substance dependence, are present in all regions of the world including Middle Eastern Arab countries. Bibliometric analysis is an increasingly used tool for research assessment. The main objective of this study was to assess research productivity in the field of substance use disorders in Arab countries using bibliometric indicators.
Original or review research articles authored or co-authored by investigators from Arab countries about substance use disorders during the period 1900 – 2013 were retrieved using the ISI Web of Science database. Research activity was assessed by analyzing the annual research productivity, contribution of each Arab country, names of journals, citations, and types of abused substances.
Four hundred and thirteen documents in substance use disorders were retrieved. Annual research productivity was low but showed a significant increase in the last few years. In terms of quantity, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (83 documents) ranked first in research about substance use disorders while Lebanon (17.4 documents per million) ranked first in terms of number of documents published per million inhabitants. Retrieved documents were found in different journal titles and categories, mostly in Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal. Authors from USA appeared in 117 documents published by investigators from Arab countries. Citation analysis of retrieved documents showed that the average citation per document was 10.76 and the h - index was 35. The majority of retrieved documents were about tobacco and smoking (175 documents) field while alcohol consumption and abuse research was the least with 69 documents.
The results obtained suggest that research in this field was largely neglected in the past. However, recent research interest was observed. Research output on tobacco and smoking was relatively high compared to other substances of abuse like illicit drugs and medicinal agents. Governmental funding for academics and mental health graduate programs to do research in the field of substance use disorders is highly recommended.