Methodological Reviews| Volume 63, ISSUE 6, P1041-1050, June 2022

Bibliometric Network Analysis on Rapid-Onset Opioids for Breakthrough Cancer Pain Treatment


      Background and Objectives

      Proper breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP) management is of pivotal importance. Although rapid-acting, oral and nasal transmucosal, fentanyl formulations (rapid-onset opioids, ROOs) are licensed for BTcP treatment, not all guidelines recommend their use. Presumably, some research gaps need to be bridged to produce solid evidence. We present a bibliometric network analysis on ROOs for BTcP treatment.


      Documents were retrieved from the Web of Science (WOS) online database. The string was “rapid onset opioids” or “transmucosal fentanyl” and “breakthrough cancer pain”. Year of publication, journal metrics (impact factor and quartile), title, document type, topic, and clinical setting (in-patients, outpatients, and palliative care) were extracted. The software tool VOSviewer (version 1.6.17) was used to analyze the semantic network analyzes, bibliographic coupling, journals analysis, and research networks.


      502 articles were found in WOS. A declining trend in published articles from 2014 to 2021 was observed. Approximately 50% of documents regard top quartile (Q1) journals. Most articles focused on ROOs efficacy, but abuse and misuse issues are poorly addressed. With respect to article type, we calculated 132 clinical investigations. The semantic network analysis found interconnections between the terms “breakthrough cancer pain,” “opioids,” and “cancers.” The top co-cited article was published in 2000 and addressed pain assessment. The largest number of partnerships regarded the United States, Italy, and England.


      In this research area, most articles are published in top-ranked journals. Nevertheless, paramount topics should be better addressed, and the implementation of research networks is needed.

      Key Words

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