A Bibliometric Analysis of U.S.-Based Research on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

Published:November 06, 2014DOI:


      Since Alan Pritchard defined bibliometrics as “the application of statistical methods to media of communication” in 1969, bibliometric analyses have become widespread. To date, however, bibliometrics has not been used to analyze publications related to the U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).


      To determine the most frequently cited BRFSS-related topical areas, institutions, and journals.


      A search of the Web of Knowledge database in 2013 identified U.S.-published studies related to BRFSS, from its start in 1984 through 2012. Search terms were BRFSS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, or Behavioral Risk Survey. The resulting 1,387 articles were analyzed descriptively and produced data for VOSviewer, a computer program that plotted a relevance distance–based map and clustered keywords from text in titles and abstracts.


      Topics, journals, and publishing institutions ranged widely. Most research was clustered by content area, such as cancer screening, access to care, heart health, and quality of life. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine and American Journal of Public Health published the most BRFSS-related papers (95 and 70, respectively).


      Bibliometrics can help identify the most frequently published BRFSS-related topics, publishing journals, and publishing institutions. BRFSS data are widely used, particularly by CDC and academic institutions such as the University of Washington and other universities hosting top-ranked schools of public health. Bibliometric analysis and mapping provides an innovative way of quantifying and visualizing the plethora of research conducted using BRFSS data and summarizing the contribution of this surveillance system to public health.
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