Journal of Palliative Medicine: an EAPC official journal one year on…

Charles F von Gunten, Editor-in-Chief, and Lisa Pelzek-Braun, Managing Editor, Journal of Palliative Medicine, describe how the journal’s relationship with the EAPC is impacting on readership and manuscript submission, what you can expect from the journal and future plans.

Dr Charles F von Gunten and Lisa Pelzek-Braun.


Journal of Palliative Medicine is enjoying its new relationship with the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) announced at the congress in Bern, Switzerland in 2019. We are looking forward to repeating the award of a 1,000 Euro prize for the ‘best European Paper’ published in 2019 to be used toward attendance at the next EAPC World Research Congress in Palermo. Forty papers submitted by 1 July 2019 are eligible; the decision will be made in early 2020.

Journal of Palliative Medicine is a global journal with editorial board membership and manuscripts from around the world. We are not just an American journal. The journal enjoys exceptional global visibility, with over 250,000 full-text downloads each year, and 536,000 abstract-only downloads. There are 2,600 registered users on our web-based manuscript system from Europe alone. The top five European countries by number of readers are Italy, UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Within Europe, the top-downloading countries are UK, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. There were one to two papers from Europe published in each issue of the journal in 2018.

We have noticed an increase in readership and manuscript submissions from Europe since the announcement of our relationship with the EAPC. Only 60 per cent of readership is from North America. That proportion is falling as the growth in readership around the rest of the world continues: 20 per cent of readership is from Europe, and rising. The remaining 20 per cent is from Australasia. The single largest centre using Journal of Palliative Medicine is in China!

Journal of Palliative Medicine has the clinician in mind. In contrast with scientific journals, for whom the target is academic researchers, when we review submissions, we ask ourselves, what will help the clinician who is frequently working in our field to understand what is ‘new’ and what can influence practice.

Journal of Palliative Medicine is structured to correspond with the way that new information develops. Letters (500 words) describe interesting observations from clinicians that puzzle them or seem to merit further study. A distinct case discussion series works to ‘unpack’ interesting cases for purposes of teaching or enabling further study. Brief Reports (1,500 words) represent the next step – the publication and dissemination of initial studies (e.g. Phase II clinical trials or work to establish feasibility or confirm observations in individual cases that might have appeared as a letter). Research reports (3,000 words) represent complete studies that seek to answer an important clinical question.

The most read section is the Personal Reflections section. Individuals describe sometimes very personal experiences, or write poetry, or do something that illustrates the experience of working in our field. A review of recent literature helps the busy clinician ‘keep up’ without having to search and read all the pertinent scientific palliative literature. “In this Issue” gives bite-sized information – one or two sentence summaries for the busy clinician.

In contrast with most other scientific publications, Journal of Palliative Medicine enjoys a substantial number of individuals who subscribe to the hard copy version. Our publisher says it’s very unusual. We think it confirms our assumptions about what many of our subscribers need and want.

Lastly, as we look to our 23rd year of publication, we note the tremendous increase in the number of submissions, as well as requirement that some research be published open access if publicly funded. As a response, the publisher plans to introduce a new journal, Journal of Palliative Medicine Reports, an open-access journal beginning sometime in the next 12 months.


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