Health Policy and Planning’s Top 10 Articles Contributing to the 2021 Impact Factor

By Natasha Salaria (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

The 2021 impact factors have now been released and we are pleased to announce we have seen another increase in our impact factor which has gone up to 3.547 with our 5-year impact factor coming in at 4.423. Our journal sits 25th out of 88 in the Health Policy and Services category. We as a journal published over 200 articles in 2021, had over 1 million downloads in 2021 and have published papers from more than 90 countries in the past 3 years.

The use of impact factors as measuring quality and impact of journals is widely contested, however, it is still recognised by authors, publishers, libraries and academic departments as an indicator of citation rates to journal articles and still used as criteria for authors when looking to publish their work.

After taking a look into some of the citation data, we would like to share our top 10 most highly cited articles that contributed to the 2021 impact factor in Health Policy and Planning:

  1. Original article: The cost of not breastfeeding: global results from a new tool
  2. Original article: Mental health system costs, resources and constraints in South Africa: a national survey
  3. Methodological Musing: On discount rates for economic evaluations in global health
  4. Review: The impacts of decentralization on health system equity, efficiency and resilience: a realist synthesis of the evidence
  5. Original article: Community engagement for health system resilience: evidence from Liberia’s Ebola epidemic
  6. Commentary: What role can health policy and systems research play in supporting responses to COVID-19 that strengthen socially just health systems?
  7. Original article: ‘LMICs as reservoirs of AMR’: a comparative analysis of policy discourse on antimicrobial resistance with reference to Pakistan
  8. Original article: Estimating a cost-effectiveness threshold for health care decision-making in South Africa
  9. Methodological Musing: Document analysis in health policy research: the READ approach
  10. Review: Health system resilience: a literature review of empirical research

Our top 10 contributions by organizations include high performing higher education institutions such as University of London institutions, Johns Hopkins, Harvard University, University of Cape Town, League of European Research Universities and the World Health Organization.

Our top contributions by country are from USA, England, South frica, India and Kenya.

In 2021, our blog audience included top readers from India, Kenya, Ghana, Indonesia, South Africa, USA, UK, Nigeria and China.


Altmetric is an alternative metric to the impact factor, used to demonstrate engagement with journals on an individual article level. Altmetric collects data on universal popularity and uptake, including within policy documents to show how research has influenced health policy as well as media outlets and social media platform discussions.

There have been over 155 Health Policy and Planning papers cited in policy documents over the past year including for the World Bank, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Health Policy and Planning is helping bridge the gap between academic research and its real-life application and this collection provides recent examples of high-impact work in health policy and systems research focusing on low- and middle-income countries.

Here are the Top 10 articles from 2020 with the highest Altmetric score published in Health Policy and Planning:

  1. Original article: An assessment of geographical access and factors influencing travel time to emergency obstetric care in the urban state of Lagos, Nigeria
  2. Original article: Is the routine health information system ready to support the planned national health insurance scheme in South Africa?
  3. Original article: Health and politics in pandemic times: COVID-19 responses in Ethiopia
  4. Review: In search of ‘community’: a critical review of community mental health services for women in African settings
  5. Original article: COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans from 106 countries: a review from a health systems resilience perspective
  6. Commentary: Applied systems thinking: unlocking theory, evidence and practice for health policy and systems research
  7. Original article: Fifteen years later: moving forward Heller’s heritage on fiscal space for health
  8. Original article: Do efficiency gains really translate into more budget for health? An assessment framework and country applications
  9. Scoping Review: Modified scoping review of the enablers and barriers to implementing primary health care in the COVID-19 context
  10. Original article: Using system dynamics modelling to estimate the costs of relaxing health system constraints: a case study of tuberculosis prevention and control interventions in South Africa

Don’t forget to check out our latest outputs including:

  • [RESEARCH COLLECTION] Evidence to inform the COVID-19 Response
    -Power across the global health landscape: a network analysis of development assistance 1990–2015
    -Reimagining health systems for better health and social justice
    -How Systems Respond to Policies: Consequences of COVID-19 Lockdown Policies in Thailand
  •   [SUPPLEMENTS] Watch this space for a 2022 supplement publishing in November in collaboration with Health Systems Global


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