COVID-19 and health disparities: a bibliometric summary of 5000 research publications by scholars from 165 countries
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Central Michigan University, United States
American University, United States
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1364
Background and Objective:
Documented prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many inequities and health disparities persisted during the pandemic. A plethora of pandemic-era studies on disparities, inequities, and inequalities by scholars from several disciplines, including public health, necessitates their systematic summary. We achieve this aim by doing a bibliometric review of English-language publications indexed in the Web of Science.

We summarized and visualized meta-data for a corpus of 5,001 validated publications from 2020-2022, obtained with a comprehensive search query. Performance analysis focused on research proliferation in journals and disciplines; VOSviewer was used to visualize networks of collaborators and terms extracted from titles and abstracts.

Public health produced the most research related to COVID-19 health disparities, followed by disciplines related to health care, internal medicine, and psychology. No single journal published more than 4% of publications in our corpus. U.S., British, and Canadian researchers contributed the most articles, sometimes through international collaborations and much more often by co-authoring studies with colleagues from the same country. Compared to their international peers, U.S. authors tended to research Covid-19 disparities among African American, Latino/Hispanic, and sexual/gender minority populations. Bibliometric network analyses showed significant research activity in several distinct areas: COVID-19 predictors and outcomes (focusing on quantitative studies of pandemic disparities), global health (focusing on qualitative studies of pandemic inequities or inequalities), and mental health. We discuss the three areas in depth and show how medical and public health researchers use social science concepts to explain disparities. Funding agencies from the U.S., the European Union, and the UK were most likely to fund health disparities research.

Our systematic overview of research that happened over the two pandemic years suggests opportunities for public health researchers to engage in multi-disciplinary studies, building upon the contributions of other disciplines and international scholars involved in disparities research.

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