, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 751–779 | Cite as

Current performance and future trends in health care sciences and services research

  • Qiang Yao
  • Peng-Hui Lyu
  • Lian-Ping Yang
  • Lan Yao
  • Zhi-Yong Liu


Health care sciences and services research (HCSSR) has come to the fore in recent years and related research literature increased rapidly over the last few decades. The main purpose of this study is to describe the global progress and to determine the current trends on HCSSR by using a scientometrics approach to survey related literature in the Web of Science database from 1900 to 2012. The document types, languages, publication patterns, subject categories, journals, geographic and institutional distributions, top cited articles, and the distribution of keywords were thoroughly examined. The results show that HCSSR has increased rapidly over the past 20 years, most notably in the last decade. In total, there are currently 128,728 research articles in 156 journals listed in 39 WoS subject categories. The top 20 most productive countries, and institutions were analyzed in detail, and 11 frequently cited papers and research foci were identified based on citation analysis. HCSSR spans many disciplines and focuses mainly on public, environmental & occupational health and education educational research. Medical Care, Academic Medicine, Health Affairs and Journal of School Health are the core journals with both high quantity and quality. High-income countries make up the leading nations, especially G7 countries. Meanwhile, “emerging economies” are also increasingly engaging this field. American and Canadian institutions have made greater advances in productions, citations, and cooperation, with stronger and better development prospects overall. The hot topics include internet use and decision making in health care, palliative care and end of life research, health status and quality of life, quality of healthcare and patient’s satisfaction, medical education, and health communication. Also, most researchers tend to study health care sciences based on the topics of quality-of-life assessment, and their interest in quality-of-life measures has increased. Increasing attention has been paid to the developing countries, especially “emerging economies” like China. Although health research has made much progress, many questions still remain unanswered and there are few assessments of how well research systems carry out their essential functions. Hence, there is currently an urgent need for timely establishment of an effective health research system.


Health care sciences and services research Global research trends Knowledge mapping Scientometric Web of Science 



This work was supported by the Centre for Health Statistics Information, Ministry of Health, People’s Republic of China and the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71173249: Research on Formation Mechanism and Evolution Laws of Knowledge Networks). The authors are grateful to Li-xiang Li, Fei-Cheng Ma, Gerard Joseph White, Hassan Dib and Nathan D. Bobai for their helpful discussion and suggestions. The authors would also like to thank anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medicine and Health Management, Tongji Medical CollegeHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Center for Studies of Information ResourcesWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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