Global palliative care research (2002-2020): Bibliometric review and mapping analysis

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8 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number002982
JournalBMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Medical–Surgical


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