Trends in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Publications Over the Past 16 Years

Published:November 14, 2015DOI:


      • The number of rehabilitation publications over the past 16 years has risen linearly.
      • Publications with a high level of evidence showed a larger multiplication factor.
      • Publications with a low level of evidence showed a lower multiplication factor.
      • Similar trends were found for the adult and the pediatric rehabilitation literature.



      To test the hypothesis that the number of publications in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) has increased over the last 16 years in a linear fashion, and to compare the trends in publication between the pediatric and adult literature.


      We evaluated all MEDLINE articles from January 1, 1998, to December 31, 2013, using Medical Subject Headings categories of rehabilitation. An age filter separated adult and pediatric articles. We divided articles into those with a low level of scientific evidence such as letters and editorials, and those with a high level of evidence such as controlled trials and meta-analyses. We used regression analysis to evaluate the effect of the year of publication on the number of publications of each type.


      Not applicable.


      Not applicable.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Not applicable.


      MEDLINE reported a total of 98,501 adult publications and 30,895 pediatric publications during the evaluated period. There was a significant linear increase in the total number of publications in adult and pediatric rehabilitation publications with multiplication factors of 3.3 and 2.9, respectively. Importantly, publications with a high level of evidence showed larger multiplication factors compared with those with a low level of evidence (5.5 and 5.1 vs 2.1 and 2.0) for the adult and pediatric literature.


      The number of publications in the PMR field, especially those with a high level of scientific evidence, has increased linearly over the years, reflecting the rapid evolution of both adult and pediatric PMR.


      List of abbreviations:

      CT (clinical trial), MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), PMR (physical medicine and rehabilitation), RCT (randomized controlled trial)
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