An analysis of the types of recently published research in the field of cachexia

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Cachexia is a common complication of many and varied chronic disease processes, yet it has received very little attention as an area of clinical research effort until recently. We sought to survey the contemporary literature on published research into cachexia to define where it is being published and the proportion of output classified into the main types of research output.


I searched the PubMed listings under the topic research term “cachexia” and related terms for articles published in the calendar years of 2015 and 2016, regardless of language. Searches were conducted and relevant papers extracted by two observers, and disagreements were resolved by consensus.


There were 954 publications, 370 of which were review articles or commentaries, 254 clinical observations or non-randomised trials, 246 original basic science reports and only 26 were randomised controlled trials. These articles were published in 478 separate journals but with 36% of them being published in a core set of 23 journals. The H-index of these papers was 25 and there were 147 papers with 10 or more citations. Of the top 100 cited papers, 25% were published in five journals. Of the top cited papers, 48% were review articles, 18% were original basic science, and 7% were randomised clinical trials.


This analysis shows a steady but modest increase in publications concerning cachexia with a strong pipeline of basic science research but still a relative lack of randomised clinical trials, with none exceeding 1000 patients. Research in cachexia is still in its infancy, but the solid basic science effort offers hope that translation into randomised controlled clinical trials may eventually lead to effective therapies for this troubling and complex clinical disease process.

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