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Global trends of acupuncture clinical research on analgesia from 2010 to 2023: a bibliometric and visualization analysis

Objective: Acupuncture, acknowledged as a potent non-pharmacological therapy, is frequently employed to alleviate pain.

Global trends of acupuncture clinical research on analgesia from 2010 to 2023: a bibliometric and visualization analysis

Despite its widespread use, there has been a lack of overarching bibliometric analysis of clinical research on acupuncture analgesia. We aimed to summarize current patterns, hotspots, and development trends in this field through bibliometric analysis. Methods: This study evaluates academic publications retrieved from the Web of Science database (2010.01–2023.09) concerning acupuncture analgesia in clinical settings. All primary and secondary studies on humans were included. To track global developmental trends, we employed several software for analyzing annual publication volumes, countries/regions, institutions, authors, cited authors, journals, cited journals, references, and keywords and to draw collaborative networks and reference co-citation network maps. Results: The final search encompassed 7,190 relevant studies, including 1,263 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 1,293 systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

The results indicated a gradual increase in the number of annual publications on acupuncture analgesia in clinical practice. Among countries and institutions, China (2,139) and Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (258) ranked first. Liang FR (89 articles) was the most prolific author, while MacPherson H (604) was the most cited author. MEDICINE (455) was the most productive journal, and Pain (2,473/0.20) ranked first in both the frequency and centrality of cited journals. Notably, the most frequently cited reference was a systematic review of individual patient data on acupuncture carried out for chronic pain that was published by Vickers Andrew J in 2012 (156). Burst analysis identified frontier research areas for 2010–2020, encompassing network meta-analysis, case reports, dry needling, lumbar disc herniation, cancer, post-herpetic neuralgia, insomnia, and bibliometric analysis. Conclusion: This study outlines current trends and potential future research hotspots in clinical acupuncture analgesia over the past decade. Findings emphasize the necessity for enhanced international collaboration to improve research output and translation.

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