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Analysis finds less research attention given to diseases of the poor
Date:4/4/2014

Death is not distributed equally around the world. In high-income countries, people typically die in old age of chronic diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular problems. In low-income countries, death comes primarily from infectious and perinatal diseases, and strikes at a young age.

But despite massive international efforts to improve global health, a new analysis of nearly 4 million scientific articles finds that research is disproportionately focused on diseases that primarily afflict wealthy countries. Correspondingly, less research attention is given to diseases of the developing world, increasing global health disparities, concludes the study, published in PLoS ONE.

"Our study demonstrates that health research follows the market, but likely not just because of the market," said lead author James Evans, associate professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, director of the Knowledge Lab and senior fellow of the Computation Institute. "Health researchers are sensitive to problems they are treating, to problems around them, to Grandma's problems. Countries want to fund research that burdens their populations. Where this leads to inequality in health knowledge is that the disease burden of rich and poor countries are different, and that rich countries obviously produce much, much more research."

To conduct this analysis, Evans and co-authors Jae-Mahn Shim of the University of Seoul and John P. A. Ioannidis of Stanford University drew upon data from the World Health Organization and MEDLINE, the National Library of Medicine's database of biomedical journal articles. The researchers measured the global disease burdenthe number of healthy life years lost to disease or disabilityof 111 medical conditions, and statistically measured the relationship between each disease's burden and the number of research articles that studied the disease.

Though they expected to find at least a weak influence of disease b
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Contact: Rob Mitchum
rmitchum@uchicago.edu
773-484-9890
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert  

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