View From Above: Bibliometric and Citation Analysis of Global High Altitude Medicine Research

Document Type: Original Article


1 School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland

2 School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

3 School of Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Introduction: High altitude destinations are popular among international travelers. Travel medicine practitioners should be familiar with altitude physiology and high altitude illness recognition, prophylaxis, and management. We performed the first bibliometric analysis of high altitude medicine research.
Methods: All articles published in a specialist high altitude medicine journal through April 2020 were mapped against the 34 domains in a theoretical body of knowledge. Citation counts of articles, as well as authors publishing the most articles, were obtained from Scopus. Collaboration analysis was performed using established methods.
Results: Mapping of 1150 articles published from 2000 to 2020 identified the leading domains represented by high altitude medicine articles. The top five domains were altitude acclimatization and deterioration (19.4%, n=510); cardiovascular physiology (6.8%, n=180); work at altitude (6.6%, n=174); acute mountain sickness (6.4%, n=169); respiratory and acid-base physiology (5.9%, n=155). Published articles attracted a total of 13,324 citations, with a mean of 11.6 citations per article. The average number of citations per author was 22.3. The USA was the most productive country with 432 publications (37.6%), followed by the UK (9.5%, n=109) and Switzerland (5.6%, n=64). The collaboration index for multi-authored publications increased from 3.8 in 2002 to 5.4 in 2019.
Conclusion: We have performed the first comprehensive bibliometric analysis in high altitude medicine. Efforts to increase the research activity in neglected topics and to promote greater collaboration between high altitude medicine and related fields of study such as travel medicine may be worthwhile.