To assess how the occupational medicine literature may affect general medical practice, representative journals were reviewed to address (1) how frequently the specialities cite each others' literature and (2) which topics are published most commonly by the respective journals. Five general medical journals were selected to contrast with six occupational medical journals. Methods included Journal Citation Reports, which enable the tabulation of impact factor, self-citation rate, and the number of source items published by the journal. MEDLINE was used to cross reference the 11 journals with designated topics in occupational medicine. The findings indicated that occupational medical journals are nearly 50 times more likely to cite the general medical literature than the converse. The journals most likely to cite the core occupational medical literature, aside from the speciality journals themselves, were the American Review of Respiratory Diseases and the American Journal of Epidemiology. In comparing the 1976 through 1980 period with the 1986 through 1990 period, occupational medical journals published 2.5 times as many source items (letters, technical reports, and papers) compared with a decade earlier. The MEDLINE search indicated that both types of journals address the same types of occupational medicine topics with the exception of gas poisoning and toxic hepatitis, which were published much more frequently in general medical journals. Pneumoconiosis was the most frequently addressed topic by occupational medical journals. Other major categories included reproductive hazards, lead poisoning, and noise-induced hearing loss. This study indicates that occupational medicine, as reflected by its journals, is a much more active scientific discipline than it was a decade earlier.
©1992 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine