Fifty Years of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) – a Bibliometric Analysis of Publication Activity and General Content of the Publications

Journal of Scientometric Research,2020,9,3,268-276.
Published:December 2020
Type:Research Article
Author(s) affiliations:

Jenny-Ann Brodin Danell1,*, Rickard Danell1, Pia Vuolanto2

1Department of Sociology, Umeå University, Umeå, SWEDEN.

2Research Centre for Knowledge, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Institute for Advanced Social Research, Tampere University, Tampere, FINLAND


The aim of this article is to analyze the development of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a research domain over the period 1966-2016. Using bibliometric methods, the publication pattern will be analyzed with a focus on journal articles and sources. Furthermore, we will analyze the development of clinical research and map the general content of the publications. The data set consist of 105 216 publications, that have Complementary Therapies as their MeSH major topic, in the Medline database. The expansion of CAM research took place in the late 1990s. At the end of the time period about 20 percent of the publications were classified as clinical trials, but relatively few according to clinical phase. A majority of the core journals, defined by the Bradford law of scattering, showed a focus on CAM. The impact of these journals, measured by SNIP values, were close to the average. The analysis of MeSH terms revealed that the dominating therapies were Muscoskeletal manipulations, Acupuncture Therapy and Mind Body Therapies. The co-word analysis of author keywords showed that Acupuncture were the largest single node. Furthermore, it was possible to detect a specific CAM cluster. CAM has developed to a small but distinct research domain. There are signs of specialization in/about CAM as well as integration in other medical sub-fields. Furthermore, there are signs of a young medical domain, characterized by small and exploratory clinical studies.

Network visualization based on author keywords in journal articles classified as Complementary Therapies in Medline, 1966-2016

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