Using a MEDLINE-based analysis, we studied the national origin of articles published in important anesthesia, pain, critical care, and emergency medicine journals. All journals in English listed in the Science Citation Index (SCI) of Journal Citation Reports under the subheadings Anesthesiology (n = 17) and Emergency Medicine & Critical Care (n = 13) were analyzed with the help of MEDLINE. Issues from 1996 and 1997 were included and summarized. Letters, abstracts, editorials, meeting reports, and news were not included. MEDLINE printouts were studied, and we classified the country of origin of the first author. The following subsets were defined: Anesthesia, Regional Anesthesia and Pain, Clinical Monitoring and Computing, Intensive Care Medicine and Resuscitation, and Emergency Medicine and Trauma. A total of 10,643 publications in 30 journals were published during 1996 and 1997. Of the 30 journals, 17 originate in the United States (US) and 8 from United Kingdom (UK). In 14 of the 17 US journals, >50% of the publications came from the US. The US was the most active nation, with a total of 4,283 articles (40.2% of all contributions), followed by the UK with 1,418 articles (13.3%). When looking at the number of publications with regard to inhabitants or impact factor per million inhabitants, small highly industrialized nations (Finland 35.41 and Sweden 33.9 articles/million inhabitants) were significantly more active than large highly industrialized countries (US 16.2, Germany 6.1, Japan 4.5 articles/million inhabitants). It is presumed that indicators of productivity in medical research are the number of articles published and the cumulative impact factor. During 1996 and 1997, the US was the most active nation with regard to publications in important journals in the areas of anesthesia, pain, critical care, and emergency medicine. Small highly industrialized nations, however, had a higher activity rate than larger countries.
Implications: In a MEDLINE-based analysis, we examined the number of publications in important anesthesia, pain, critical care, and emergency medicine journals (n = 30) for the years 1996 and 1997 and analyzed these with regard to national origin. The United States was by far the most active nation in this medical area (4283 articles [40.2%]), followed by the United Kingdom (13.3%). With regard to publications per million inhabitants, small highly industrialized nations contributed overproportionally to publications in this area.