Article Text

Global palliative care research (2002-2020): bibliometric review and mapping analysis
  1. Hammoda Abu-Odah,
  2. Alex Molassiotis and
  3. Justina Yat Wa Liu
  1. School of Nursing,The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong
  1. Correspondence to Mr Hammoda Abu-Odah, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong; hammoda.abuodah{at}


Background and objective Despite the important benefits of a bibliometric approach on mapping a research field, relatively little efforts have previously been conducted to map and analyse the global trends of palliative care (PC)-related research. This bibliometric review aimed to provide an overall picture and systematic mapping of the state of research trends within the field of PC internationally.

Methods Scopus and Web of Science databases were searched to retrieve original articles focusing on PC between 2002 and 2020. Searching was conducted on 5 May 2020, and was updated on 6 May 2021. All retrieved articles were assessed by title and abstract, and the bibliometric metadata of those that met the inclusion criteria were downloaded for analysis. The results were analysed by VOSviewer and Gephi software.

Results A total of 19,199 articles met the inclusion criteria. Significant growth of the number of published articles was reported by around five-fold from 2002 to 2020. The USA and UK were the most productive countries in terms of the number of papers published and citations. Weak collaborations were observed between low-income or middle-income countries and high-income countries. Cancer-related PC research was the most common focus. Seven clusters of research were identified and included heart failure and cancer prognosis, nursing home, pain and symptoms management, PC knowledge and attitudes, quality improvement of services, PC ethics, and the ongoing assessment of PC services.

Conclusions There is a need to expand PC-related research to non-cancer diseases. More international research and cross-institutional cooperation is required to address more global PC issues and benefit from wider sharing of expertees, potentially leading to higher quality or more impactful studies. Setting up research agendas and priorities from funding bodies and institutions may also enhance cooperation among researchers.

  • clustering analysis
  • global trend
  • mapping
  • bibliometric
  • palliative care

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  • Contributors Study design, literature search, data extraction and checking, data analysis and interpretation, and manuscript drafting and revision: HA-O and AM; Study conception and design, and manuscript revision: AM and JL. Manuscript revision: HA-O, AM, JL. Drafting initial paper: HA-O; Contribution in the discussion and final write-up: all authors; All authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.