SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
AIM: To investigate the scope and trends in clinical research in South African thoracic surgery between 1955 and 2006 and to measure its impact on clinical practice. METHOD: A systematic review of all SA thoracic surgical publications was performed. RESULTS: There were 252 general thoracic publications and a marked decrease in publications was noted after the peak period of productivity of the 1980s. There was a shift toward the private sector as an origin of articles and toward a local, non-indexed journal. Inflammatory lung disease was the most frequent topic of publication. Case series and case reports were the most frequent type of article. CONCLUSION: The vulnerability of a small specialty in a developing country is illustrated by the clear trends that emerged. The study provides important indicators for future research, highlights the need for a national database of clinical experience, and emphasises the importance of rekindling interest and a culture of research in thoracic surgery.