This study aims at comparing scientific production in malignant mesothelioma (MM) among countries and evaluating publication trends and impact factor (IF). The PubMed database was searched with a strategy combining keywords listed in the Medical Subject Headings and free-text search. Publications numbers and IF were evaluated both as absolute values and after standardization by population and gross domestic product (GDP). 5240 citations were retrieved from the biennium 1951-1952 (n = 22) to 2005-2006 (n = 535). The 177% increase of MM publications from 1987 to 2006 exceeded by large the corresponding value of total cancer literature (123.5%). In these two decades, 2559 articles with IF were published: 46.4% came from the European Union (EU) (the UK, Italy and France ranking at the top), and 36.2% from the US. The highest mean IF was reported for the US (3.346), followed by Australia (3.318), and EU (2.415, with the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands first). Finland, Sweden and Australia had the best ratio between IF (sum) and resident population or GDP. The number of publications correlated with GDP (p = 0.001) and national MM mortality rates (p = 0.002). An association was found between a country commitment to MM research and the burden of disease (p = 0.04). Asbestos, survival, prognosis, occupational exposure, differential diagnosis, and immunohistochemistry were the most commonly used keywords. This report represents the first effort to explore the geographical and temporal distribution of MM research and its determinants. This is an essential step in understanding science priorities and developing disease control policies.
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