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Palliative care journal publications by country as a metric for palliative care development level


Objective There is a growing interest in developing a scientific research metric to assess the level of palliative care (PC) development in countries. This study assesses a metric based on publishing in specialised PC journals as an indicator for the level of PC development.

Methods A 3-year average articles per million population per year (3y-AAMY) metric was calculated using documents published in 19 specialised PC journals indexed in Scopus database. Countries were categorised into six levels starting with level ‘0’ with no publications then levels Q1 to Q5 according to the 3y-AAMY quintiles (Q5=best performance). The relationship between the 3y-AAMY and the level of PC development in countries and opioid consumption figures was tested.

Results During 2016–2018, 6610 eligible documents were published in the selected 19 journals. The median (IQR) 3y-AAMY of 191 countries was 0.0123 (0–0.237). The 3y-AAMY differed significantly among the levels of PC development, being 0 (IQR:0–0) for category 1 (no known activity) countries and 1.129 (IQR:0.286–4.625) for category 4B (advanced integration) countries (Kruskal-Wallis test p<0.000001 and Jonckheere-Terpstra trend test p<0.00001). The correlation between the 3y-AAMY and average opioid consumption was a highly significant positive one (Spearman’s ρ=0.681, p<0.0001). Furthermore, opioid consumption differed significantly between the 3y-AAMY categories being highest for Q5 countries (Kruskal-Wallis test p<0.000001 and Jonckheere-Terpstra trend test p<0.00001).

Conclusion A metric based on publishing in specialised PC journals correlates significantly with the levels of PC development and opioid consumption in countries and may be used alongside other indicators for the assessment of PC development.

  • Service evaluation

Data availability statement

Data used to generate the results of this study were retrieved from the Scopus database using the search strategy detailed in the methods section.

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