Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 99, Issue 6, pp 466–471 | Cite as

Shifts in the Use of Population Health, Health Promotion, and Public Health

A Bibliometric Analysis
  • Andrea C. TriccoEmail author
  • Vivien Runnels
  • Margaret Sampson
  • Louise Bouchard



Bibliometric analysis can be used to objectively compare the usage of terms over time. The purpose of this research was to compare the use of population health, health promotion, and public health using bibliometric indicators of the published literature.


Bibliometric indicators, such as scientific productivity and the overlap between the terms, were analyzed in the Web of Science. Indexing of population health, health promotion, and public health was explored in MEDLINE, CINAHL, and EMBASE.


The most productive country in population health was Canada, while the most productive country in health promotion and public health was the United States. The number of published articles using the public health term was surpassed by health promotion around 1990. Both were surpassed by population health around 2000. Population health was the only concept which lacked an index term in all three databases.


There has been a shift in the usage of public health, health promotion, and population health concepts over time. Country analysis revealed that Canadian researchers are leaders in population health, while researchers based in the United States are leaders in public health and health promotion. This may indicate differences rooted in the social, historical and economic traditions. Although the publication rate of articles described as ‘population health’ research is increasing, it is lacking an index term across major electronic databases. We suggest that without timely acceptance of terms, new concepts that represent different ways of thinking about health may be limited, delayed or glossed over.


Bibliometric analysis public health health promotion population health 



Les analyses bibliométriques sont utilisées pour comparer objectivement l’évolution de concepts au fil du temps. Nous avons voulu comparer l’utilisation des termes «santé des populations», «promotion de la santé» et «santé publique» dans la documentation en recourant à des indicateurs bibliométriques.


Des indicateurs bibliométriques (la productivité scientifique, le chevauchement des termes) ont été analysés dans Web of Science. Le classement des termes «santé des populations», «promotion de la santé» et «santé publique» a été examiné dans les bases de données MEDLINE, CINAHL et EMBASE.


Le Canada est le pays le plus productif dans le domaine de la santé des populations, tandis que les États-Unis le sont pour la promotion de la santé et la santé publique. Le nombre d’articles référant à la santé publique a été surpassé par la documentation sur la promotion de la santé au tournant des années 1990. Les deux concepts ont été distancés par la santé des populations au tournant des années 2000. La santé des populations est le seul concept qui ne soit pas indexé dans les trois bases.


Il y a eu un changement dans l’usage des concepts de santé publique, de promotion de la santé et de santé des populations au fil du temps. L’analyse par pays montre que les chercheurs canadiens sont les chefs de file en santé des populations, tandis que les chercheurs des États-Unis dominent les champs de la santé publique et de la promotion de la santé. Ceci pourrait s’expliquer par des différences de traditions sociales, historiques et économiques. Le taux de publication des articles de recherche sur la «santé des populations» s’accroît, mais ce terme n’est pas indexé dans toutes les grandes bases de données. Selon nous, si l’on n’accepte pas rapidement les nouveaux termes, on risque de faire abstraction de nouvelles notions qui correspondent à différentes façons de réfléchir à la santé, ou encore de limiter ou de retarder l’adoption de ces notions.

Mots clés

analyses bibliométriques santé des populations promotion de la santé santé publique 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea C. Tricco
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vivien Runnels
    • 1
  • Margaret Sampson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Louise Bouchard
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Population Health, Children’s Hospital of Eastern OntarioUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Chalmers Research GroupChildren’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research InstituteOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Information StudiesUniversity of Wales, AberystwythWalesUK
  4. 4.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of OttawaCanada

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