Almost 40 Years Investigating Near-Death Experiences: An Overview of Mainstream Scientific Journals

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This article reviews mainstream scientific publications on near-death experiences (NDEs). We searched near-death experience in titles, key words, and abstracts at the Web of Knowledge database published between 1945 and 2013. We identified 266 relevant documents, the oldest from 1977. There was a strong predominance of opinion articles (book reviews, commentaries, and editorials), review articles, phenomenological description articles, and articles that originated in the United States. Since 2000, the number of longitudinal and cross-sectional studies has increased; there has been a diversification in the countries that have published on the subject and more articles that discuss the implications of NDEs for the mind-brain relationship. The results indicate that most scholarly publications on NDEs are recent, usually have no original empirical data, and are concentrated in North America and Western Europe. Future studies should focus on increasing the cultural diversity in the field and on testing explanatory hypotheses based on high-quality empirical data.

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