Health care quality improvement publication trends

Am J Med Qual. Sep-Oct 2014;29(5):403-7. doi: 10.1177/1062860613503708. Epub 2013 Oct 7.


To analyze the extent of academic interest in quality improvement (QI) initiatives in medical practice, annual publication trends for the most well-known QI methodologies being used in health care settings were analyzed. A total of 10 key medical- and business-oriented library databases were examined: PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ISI Web of Science, Scopus, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, ABI/INFORM, and Business Source Complete. A total of 13 057 articles were identified that discuss at least 1 of 10 well-known QI concepts used in health care contexts, 8645 (66.2%) of which were classified as original research. "Total quality management" was the only methodology to demonstrate a significant decline in publication over time. "Continuous quality improvement" was the most common topic of study across all publication years, whereas articles discussing Lean methodology demonstrated the largest growth in publication volume over the past 2 decades. Health care QI publication volume increased substantially beginning in 1991.

Keywords: Medicare; bibliometrics; quality assurance; quality improvement; quality of health care.

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics*
  • Humans
  • Quality Improvement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Total Quality Management / statistics & numerical data