The 50-year proliferation of music medical science research: A bibliometric review


  • Zachary Levine McMaster University Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Mackenzie Campbell University of Manitoba, Faculty of Medicine
  • Abeer Adil
  • Shaul Kruger
  • David Alter My Heart Fitness



Music, Medical research, bibliometric review


The extent to which music research has penetrated the medical science literature relative to other forms of research remains unclear. We sought to explore temporal changes in the number of music related publications relative to all medical literature as well as prespecified research subdomains of drug therapy, alternative therapy, and neuroscience between 1970 and 2019. We conducted a bibliometric review in which we quantified the number of annual publications between 1970 and 2019 using MEDLINE (PUBMED) search engine and mesh terms of “Music”; “Drug therapy”; “Alternative Medicine”; “Neuroscience”. The number of publications were quantified relative to all publications within their corresponding years. We also examined the types of journals, geographical location of publication (Based on corresponding author), and journal impact factors. To ensure appropriate content, we conducted a hand review of a random 400 abstracts to ensure they met appropriate criteria for music-medical research. We used log-linear regression, to test differences in growth rates. We determined that the relative growth in the number of music publications accelerated at a rate higher than all medical related publications or those confined to drug therapy. The proliferation of music research was attributable to higher rates of neuroscience, alternative therapy, and music therapy research. In conclusion, the temporal growth in number of music research publications relative to other comparators over the past 50 years underscores the importance, relevance, and maturation of music as an evolving discipline of contemporary medical science.

Author Biography

David Alter, My Heart Fitness

Senior Scientist, UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program
Adjunct Senior Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
Chair in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto
347 Rumsey Road, Toronto, ON, M4G 1R7





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