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  • Waleed M. Sweileh
  • Kolitha Wickramage,
  • Kevin Pottie,
  • Charles Hui,
  • Bayard Roberts,
  • Ansam F. Sawalha and
  • Saed H. Zyoud
BMC Public Health 2018 18:777



The health of migrants has become an important issue in global health and foreign policy. Assessing the current status of research activity and identifying gaps in global migration health (GMH) is an important step in mapping the evidence-base and on advocating health needs of migrants and mobile populations. The aim of this study was to analyze globally published peer-reviewed literature in GMH.


A bibliometric analysis methodology was used. The Scopus database was used to retrieve documents in peer-reviewed journals in GMH for the study period from 2000 to 2016. A group of experts in GMH developed the needed keywords and validated the final search strategy.


The number of retrieved documents was 21,457. Approximately one third (6878; 32.1%) of the retrieved documents were published in the last three years of the study period. In total, 5451 (25.4%) documents were about refugees and asylum seekers, while 1328 (6.2%) were about migrant workers, 440 (2.1%) were about international students, 679 (3.2%) were about victims of human trafficking/smuggling, 26 (0.1%) were about patients’ mobility across international borders, and the remaining documents were about unspecified categories of migrants. The majority of the retrieved documents (10,086; 47.0%) were in psychosocial and mental health domain, while 2945 (13.7%) documents were in infectious diseases, 6819 (31.8%) documents were in health policy and systems, 2759 (12.8%) documents were in maternal and reproductive health, and 1918 (8.9%) were in non-communicable diseases. The contribution of authors and institutions in Asian countries, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, and Eastern European countries was low. Literature in GMH represents the perspectives of high-income migrant destination countries.


Our heat map of research output shows that despite the ever-growing prominence of human mobility across the globe, and Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no one behind, research output on migrants’ health is not consistent with the global migration pattern. A stronger evidence base is needed to enable authorities to make evidence-informed decisions on migration health policy and practice. Research collaboration and networks should be encouraged to prioritize research in GMH.