COVID-19 burden, author affiliation and women's well-being: A bibliometric analysis of COVID-19 related publications including focus on low- and middle-income countries

Elsevier, eClinicalMedicine, Volume 52, October 2022
McDougal L., Dehingia N., Cheung W.W., Dixit A., Raj A.

Background: Published literature documents tremendous gender inequities in the social, economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but less evidence has come from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and even less from LMIC-based authors. We examine whether a) COVID-19 burden and b) LMIC-based authorship were associated with academic publications related to COVID-19 and women's well-being in LMICs. Methods: We reviewed academic articles on COVID-19 and women's well-being in LMICs published between February 2020 and May 2021 (n=1076 articles), using six electronic databases (PubMed, Web of Science, PsycInfo, EconLit, RePeC, NBER). Multilevel, mixed effects linear regressions assessed the relationships between each of our independent variables - a) COVID-19 burden (cases/100 population, deaths/100 population, deaths/cases) and b) author's country of primary affiliation, with publications related to COVID-19 and women's well-being, both overall and stratified by country income group. Findings: Eight-eight percent of articles had lead and/or senior authors affiliated with in-country institutions. Linear mixed effect models indicate that COVID-19 cases and case fatality ratios in a country were significantly and positively associated with the number of publications related to COVID-19 and women's well-being, though these relationships were significant only in upper-middle income group countries in stratified analyses. LMIC lead and senior authorship were also significantly and positively associated with our outcome, after adjusting for COVID-19 burden. Interpretation: While the majority of COVID-19 research examining women's well-being in LMICs in the first year and a half of the pandemic included country-affiliated author leadership, there were important gaps in representation. Findings highlight the importance of LMIC-based scholars to build local and gendered research in crises. Funding: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (INV-018007).