Adolescents, Depression & Low Income Countries

Research Paper Title

Mind the brain gap: The worldwide distribution of neuroimaging research on adolescent depression.

Background

Adolescents comprise one fourth of the world’s population, with about 90% of them living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The incidence of depression markedly increases during adolescence, making the disorder a leading cause of disease-related disability in this age group.

However, most research on adolescent depression has been performed in high-income countries (HICs).

Methods

To ascertain the extent to which this disparity operates in neuroimaging research, a systematic review of the literature was performed.

Results

A total of 148 studies were identified, with neuroimaging data available for 4,729 adolescents with depression.

When stratified by income group, 122 (82%) studies originated from HICs, while 26 (18%) were conducted in LMICs, for a total of 3,705 and 1,024 adolescents with depression respectively.

A positive Spearman rank correlation was observed between country per capita income and sample size (rs=0.673, p = 0.023).

Conclusions

The results support the previous reports showing a large disparity between the number of studies and the adolescent population per world region.

Future research comparing neuroimaging findings across populations from HICs and LMICs may provide unique insights to enhance our understanding of the neurobiological processes underlying the development of depression.

Reference

Battel, L., Cunegatto, F., Viduani, A., Fisher, H.L., Kohrt, B.A., Mondelli, V., Swartz, J.R. & Kieling, C. (2021) Mind the brain gap: The worldwide distribution of neuroimaging research on adolescent depression. Neuroimage. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117865. Online ahead of print.

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