Publication activity in water treatments: Web of Science-based bibliometric analysis of the last two decades

Int J Biometeorol. 2022 Jul 2. doi: 10.1007/s00484-022-02323-0. Online ahead of print.


We evaluated the quantity and quality of scientific publications linked with water treatments using the Web of Science (WoS) database. The WoS was searching by using the following terms "hydrotherapy," "balneotherapy," "spa therapy," "spa treatment," "creno-balneotherapy," "water treatments," and "aqua therapy," on February 10th, 2022. The recorded data were the total number of articles, year of articles, country of articles, journal, document type, index data, and citation data. Also, the studies performed with natural source mineral water were marked to make a further subgroup analysis through quality and quantity. We obtained 816 articles; 667 (81.74%) were original research articles, and 149 (18.26%) were review articles. A statistically significant and increasing trend was shown in the publication about water treatments (p < 0.01). About three-quarters of the trials were sourced from high-income countries. Italy (n = 98; 12.01%); Turkey (n = 75; 9.19%); Australia (n = 65; 7.97%); Brazil (n = 46; 5.64%); and France (n = 38; 4.66%) were the most productive countries. Calculating the number of articles per million population, Hungary (3.38), Australia (2.53), and Italy (1.64) ranked in the top three. According to 100 billion dollars GDP, the top three countries were Brazil (24.41), Hungary (21.15), and Turkey (10.41). In the average citation calculation, the Netherlands (60.84), Israel (29.86), and Australia (29.06) were in the top three. The International Journal of Biometeorology was the leading journal for publication trials about water treatments. In the subgroup analysis, we found the total number of studies performed with natural source mineral water and non-specified source water trials as 430 and 386, respectively. We also presented that the natural source and non-specified water trials had a statistically significant and increasing trend between 2000 and 2021 (p < 0.01 and p < 0.01, respectively). The trials performed with natural source water mainly were sourced from Italy (n = 79; 18.37%), Turkey (n = 61; 14.19%), France (n = 38; 8.84%), Poland (n = 30; 6.98%), and Hungary (n = 29; 6.74%), the trials performed with non-specified water were sourced from Australia (n = 61; 15.80%), Brazil (n = 46; 11.92%), USA (n = 27; 6.99%), Italy (n = 19; 4.92%), and England (n = 18; 4.66%). The top journal of the natural source water trials was the International Journal of Biometeorology (n = 65; 15.12%), and for the non-specified water trials, it was the International Journal of Sports Physiology (n = 12; 3.11%).Our study presented an increasing trend in trial publications regarding water treatments between 2000 and 2021. Most of the trials were from high and upper-middle-income countries. We suggest that by demonstrating global productivity worldwide, our results can create more scientific attention on this topic and may promote the quantity and quality of the trials.

Keywords: Balneotherapy; Bibliometric analysis; Spa therapy; Water treatment; Web of science.