The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS) published its seminal report in 2015, carving a niche for global surgery academia. Six years after the LCoGS, a scoping review was conducted to see how the term ‘global surgery’ is characterized by the literature and how it relates to LCoGS and its domains.
PubMed was searched for publications between January 2015 and February 2021 that used the term ‘global surgery’ in the title, abstract, or key words or cited the LCoGS. Variables extracted included LCoGS domains, authorship metrics, geographic scope, and clinical specialty.
The search captured 938 articles that qualified for data extraction. Nearly 80% of first and last authors had high-income country affiliations. Africa was the most frequently investigated region, though many countries within the region were under-represented. The World Journal of Surgery was the most frequent journal, publishing 13.9% of all articles. General surgery, pediatric surgery, and neurosurgery were the most represented specialties. Of the LCoGS domains, healthcare delivery and management were the most studied, while economics and financing were the least studied.
A lack of consensus on the definition of global surgery remains. Additional research is needed in economics and financing, while obstetrics and trauma are under-represented in literature using the term ‘global surgery’. Efforts in academic global surgery must give a voice to those carrying the global surgery agenda forward on the frontlines. Focusing on research capacity-building and encouraging contribution by local partners will lead to a stronger, more cohesive global surgery community.