To the Editor:—
Academic activity in European countries has increased steadily in recent years. However, there is little data about the relative activities in the different nations. To explore this, we analyzed the Medline-indexed publications from 16 European countries appearing between 1965 and September 1999. We searched for all publications (exclusive of letters and case reports) that were attributed to departments of An(a)esthesia, An(a)esthesiology, or Anaesthesiologie. We also defined the total population and the number of medical schools in each of the 16 countries and used these values to construct two indexes. The first was the total number of publications from a country divided by the number of medical schools in that nation. The second was total publications per 106population. The results are shown in table 1.
It can be seen easily that there are large variations in publication rates adjusted for either the total number of medical schools or population. Sweden, Denmark, and Austria lead the list when publications are adjusted for the number of schools, whereas Sweden, Finland, and Denmark lead when adjusted by population.
If publication rates are an accurate representation of the research productivity of the anesthesia community, these numbers indicate that there are major differences between different European countries—differences that are not related to the number of medical faculties or populations. It is tempting to argue that these differences reflect relative political and financial support for research in the specialty. However, a substantial amount of additional data would be needed to permit that hypothesis to be evaluated.