The Primary Care Research Landscape and its Relationship with Clinical Practice: A Scientometric Analysis

Salomé Apitz, Pedro Fontoura

Abstract


Introduction: It is unclear if research published in primary care journals aligns with the broad spectrum of problems managed in primary care practice. The aim of this study was to analyse publication trends concerning the burden of medical conditions reported in primary care journals, and to compare these findings with the burden of problems seen in clinical practice, in order to identify research gaps.
Material and Methods: Scientometric tools were used to analyse 9956 articles of primary care journals indexed in MEDLINE. Through keyword analysis, a relations map was built. Literature review and a primary care database were used to identify active problems and reasons for visiting a family physician. Rankings and frequencies of research output and conditions were compared.
Results: Keyword analysis identified five clusters of publication trends: cardiovascular conditions and conditions related with unhealthy lifestyles; mental disorders; infections; oncology and health management. By comparing publications with clinical problems, the fields of orthopaedics, endocrinology/metabolism, gastroenterology/hepatology, dermatology, ophthalmology, and the respiratory system show the biggest gaps. Through the relations map, more concrete potential research topics were identified such as palliative care, chronic pain, insomnia, antibiotic prescribing, burnout, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and COVID-19.
Discussion: The present study acknowledged potential research and publication gaps in Primary Care journals. The findings might help to direct continuing medical education and help with guideline development.
Conclusion: The distribution of publications in primary care journals is distinct from the burden of problems faced in clinical practice and reasons for visiting a family physician. The use of scientometric tools to identify publication trends and their comparison with common problems could be a strategy to identify areas with research gaps in primary care.


Keywords


Bibliometrics; Database Management Systems; Primary Health Care; Publishing

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