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How to select publications on occupational health: the usefulness of Medline and the impact factor
  1. J F Gehannoa,
  2. B Thirionb
  1. aHead Office of the Occupational Health Departments of Paris University Hospitals, Paris, France, bMedical Library, Rouen University Hospital, France
  1. Dr J F Gehanno, Service Central de Médecine du Travail , Hotel Dieu, 1 place du Parvis Notre Dame, F-75004 Paris, Francejean-francois.gehanno{at}


OBJECTIVES Publications in the field of occupational health appear in various journals, including those of other medical specialties. This complicates the follow up of literature for specialists in this field. On the basis of Medline and the impact factor, this diversity was assessed, and a cost effective method for selecting the most pertinent journals in the practice of occupational health was proposed.

METHODS A Medline search identified all the articles published in 1998 with occupational diseases or occupational exposures as the main topic. These articles were classified based on the journals in which they appeared. The journals were then compared according to their subject area, the number of articles that were published in the fields studied, and their impact factor.

RESULTS The search retrieved 2247 articles, published in 577 different journals in 1998. Each journal published between one and 105 articles during this period (mean 3.89). However, only 1.4% of the journals accounted for more than 25% of the total articles published. More than half of the articles were published in journals dealing with general practice or medical specialties other than occupational health. Only 66% of retrieved journals had an impact factor, and more than 80% of the articles were published in journals with an impact factor <2.

CONCLUSION Simply following up occupational health journals is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the occupational health professional. Moreover, the use of the impact factor cannot be considered as a reliable research tool to assess follow up. Two lists of eight and 38 journals were thus set up. They permit a literature coverage of 27% and 52% respectively in the specific fields studied, and this seems to be the optimal compromise between time and literature covered. Lastly, practical procedures are suggested to follow up literature and obtain abstracts from selected journals on the internet.

  • occupational health
  • bibliographic databases
  • impact factor
  • Medline

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