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Anesth Analg. 1999 Dec;89(6):1528-33.

Toward a canon of the pain and analgesia literature: a citation analysis.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia, New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The purpose of this study was to use citation analysis to identify major themes and contributors to the pain and analgesia literature over the past two decades. A citation analysis was performed on a database of more than 110,000 articles in the biomedical literature from January 1981 through June 1997, and in the interval from January 1988 through June 1997. Articles and authors related to pain and analgesia research and practice were identified by searching approximately 7,700 journals. The 20 articles and 20 authors with the most citations were then checked by hand to ensure relevance to pain or analgesia. Most of the high-impact articles identified pertained to research on basic pain pathways. Nearly all the articles concerned opioids, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and consequences of analgesic use. None of the highest-impact articles address assessment of clinical pain. Few women were first authors of any most frequently cited paper. Citation analysis is a useful tool in identifying important contributions to the biomedical literature. Recent and continuing research trends include the use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, opioid mechanisms, and persistent pain disorders. Current trends expected to become stronger include description of pain from the patient's perspective and mechanisms of the transition from acute to chronic pain.


We performed a citation analysis to identify important contributions and contributors to the biomedical literature. Recent pain and analgesia research has been focused on mechanisms of pain, but evidence suggests the importance of understanding the pain experience from the patient's perspective and the transition from acute to chronic pain.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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