Background: Little is known about the body of tobacco research as a whole.
Purpose: This paper examines the changes in literature focus (1980s to 2000s) and identifies areas in need of increased attention.
Methods: Tobacco articles randomly selected from searches of the MEDLINE and Web of Science databases were coded according to (1) epidemiologic framework component; (2) study focus; and (3) form of tobacco. Frequencies, cross-tabulations, and tests of proportions were conducted. The analysis was conducted in 2009.
Results: From the 1980s to the 2000s, there was a significant decrease in tobacco-related articles focusing on the "agent" and an increase in articles focusing on the "host." Few articles in either decade focused on the "environment" or on the "vector" (<10%). The percentage of study foci addressing health effects decreased, whereas prevalence/use and cessation foci increased. Approximately two thirds of articles focused on the cigarette.
Conclusions: The nature of tobacco research has shifted from examining the links between cigarettes and disease to understanding why people smoke and how to help them quit. Proportionately more research could focus on the environment and vector components of the epidemiologic framework, to expand strategies for reducing tobacco-related disease.
Copyright © 2010 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.