Global health workforce research: Comparative analyses of the scientific publication trends in PubMed

Tiago S. Jesus, Greta Castellini, Silvia Gianola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim: To analyse the amount of Human Resources for Health (HRH) research publication trends [1990–2019], compared to the broader health policy, systems, and services research (HPSSR). Methods: PubMed and its indexation system with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) are used for this time-trend study. Searches combine MeSH terms for research publications and HPSSR or HRH subjects, except education. Sub-group searches are conducted on: funding support, and high- versus low- and middle-income countries (HICs vs. LMICs). Linear regressions are used for the analysis. Results: HRH research publications rose exponentially (r2 = 0.94; p < 0.001) from 129 yearly publications in 1990, to 867 in 2018. Yet, HRH research publications had a logarithmic decrease (p < 0.001) in percentage of broader HPSSR publications, from 2.5% to 1.5% [1990–2018]. Funding support increased significantly and linearly (p < 0.001 r2 = 0.88), up to 44% in 2018. The percentage of HRH research publications addressing LMICs grew linearly (p < 0.001; r2 = 0.75), up to 23% in 2018. Conclusion: HRH research publications in the PubMed database increased especially in the more recent years but did not outpace (in earlier times was outpaced) by the growth of HPSSR publications overall. Yearly, HICs still accounted for more than three-quarters of HRH research. These findings can inform global and health research policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal Of Health Planning And Management
Early online date11 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2021


  • health personnel
  • health workforce
  • publications


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