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Journal Article


Trinquart L, Galea S. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2015; 182(2): 93-104.


(Copyright © 2015, Oxford University Press)






An empiric perspective on what epidemiology has studied over time might inform discussions about future directions for the discipline. We aimed to identify the main areas of epidemiologic inquiry and determine how they evolved over time in 5 high-impact epidemiologic journals. We analyzed the titles and abstracts of 20,895 articles that were published between 1974 and 2013. In 5 time periods that reflected approximately equal numbers of articles, we identified the main topics by clustering terms based on co-occurrence. Infectious disease and cardiovascular disease epidemiology were the prevailing topics over the 5 periods. Cancer epidemiology was a major topic from 1974 to 2001 but disappeared thereafter. Nutritional epidemiology gained relative importance from 1974 to 2013. Environmental epidemiology appeared during 1996-2001 and continued to be important, whereas 2 clusters related to methodology and meta-analysis in genetics appeared during 2008-2013. Several areas of epidemiology, including injury or psychiatric epidemiology, did not make an appearance as major topics at any time. In an ancillary analysis of 6 high-impact general medicine journals, we found patterns of epidemiologic articles that were overall consistent with the findings in epidemiologic journals. This metaknowledge investigation allowed identification of the dominant topics in and conversely those that were absent from 5 major epidemiologic journals. We discuss implications for the field.

Language: en


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