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Neurosurg Focus. 2012 Jul;33(1):E9. doi: 10.3171/2012.5.FOCUS1292.

Publication patterns of comparative effectiveness research in spine neurosurgery.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan.



The purpose of this study was to investigate publication patterns for comparative effectiveness research (CER) on spine neurosurgery.


The authors searched the PubMed database for the period 1980-2012 using the key words "cost analysis," "utility analysis," "cost-utility," "outcomes research," "practical clinical research," "comparator trial," and "comparative effectiveness research," linked with "effectiveness" and "spine neurosurgery."


From 1980 through April 9, 2012, neurosurgery CER publications accounted for 1.38% of worldwide CER publications (8657 of 626,330 articles). Spine neurosurgery CER accounted for only 0.02%, with 132 articles. The journal with the greatest number of publications on spine neurosurgery CER was Spine, followed by the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. The average annual publication rate for spine neurosurgery CER during this period was 4 articles (132 articles in 33 years), with 68 (51.52%) of the 132 articles being published within the past 5 years and a rising trend beginning in 2008. The top 3 contributing countries were the US, Turkey, and Japan, with 68, 8, and 7 articles, respectively. Only 8 regular articles (6.06%) focused on cost analysis.


There is a paucity of publications using CER methodology in spine neurosurgery. Few articles address the issue of cost analysis. The promotion of continuing medical education in CER methodology is warranted. Further investigations to address cost analysis in comparative effectiveness studies of spine neurosurgery are crucial to expand the application of CER in public health.

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