Looking back at 2014: BMC Medicine’s most highly accessed articles

BMC-Medicine-man-147x150Covering all areas of medicine and clinical practice, BMC Medicine aims to publish high-impact research and review articles that are either of general interest, or provide key advances in a specific field. As an open access journal, all of BMC Medicine’s content is freely available to everyone to read. The year 2014 has seen many interesting new discoveries and reviews of emerging topics published in the journal, from a new test to predict perinatal complications to the first estimation of economic research gains and a review on the transmission dynamics of Ebola. As we enter a new year, we take a look back at BMC Medicine’s most highly accessed* papers published in 2014.

Estimating the gains from research

ebola-crop-300x137 2.1Many scientific and medical breakthroughs occur as a result of publicly-funded research. It is important to estimate the economic benefits of medical research to understand how funding translates into public health benefits, and ensure that charities and research councils continue to invest in health research in the future. In the first ever study of economic returns from publicly-funded cancer research in the UK, Jonathan Grant and colleagues estimated that each pound invested between 1970 and 2009 generated benefits equal to earning 40 pence a year. This research, accessed over 13,000 times in 2014, suggests that publicly-funded cancer research benefits patients’ health as well as the overall economy, justifying the investment made.

The transmission dynamics of Ebola

The largest Ebola outbreak to date in West Africa has fuelled worldwide concern since its announcement in March 2014. Over the course of the year, a great deal of scientific research efforts have concentrated on managing and containing the epidemic, as well as investigating experimental therapies and vaccines against Ebola. Understanding the epidemiology and patterns of transmission is essential to combat the Ebola outbreak, and in BMC Medicine’s most highly accessed article published in 2014, Gerardo Chowell and Hiroshi Nishiura reviewed the transmission dynamics of the virus. The authors discussed how mathematical modeling can give insight into the spread of Ebola and the effects of control interventions, and highlighted the need to collect epidemiological data in real-time to fully understand the outbreak and design effective containment strategies. This review, published as part of ourMedicine for Global Health collection, was read over 31,000 times since its publication in October 2014, making it the most highly accessed article published in 2014.

E-cigarettes: promise vs perils

e-cigarettes-vapor-cropped-4-150x150 9.12E-cigarettes have been the topic of much controversy in 2014. As highlighted in a previous blog post, some believe that they are a valuable aid to help people quit smoking, whereas others are concerned that e-cigarettes contain harmful ingredients and could contribute to people smoking at a younger age. In December 2014, BMC Medicine published a special article collection, Promise vs perils of electronic cigarettes, to address the ongoing debate. To launch the collection, two commentaries by experts with contradictory views on the topic were published. In our second most highly accessed article of 2014, with over 15,000 views, Peter Hajek from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine outlined the benefits of e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking. On the other hand, Charlotta Pisinger from the Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Glostrup Hospital, Denmark, argued that even if e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, they are still not safe. Further critiques from experts will be published on a spectrum of topics related to e-cigarettes over the course of 2015.

Links between diet and health

Looking back over the last year, the latest findings on preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) emphasize the importance of eating fruit and vegetables, and provide further evidence in support of consuming a Mediterranean diet to lower disease risk. While most observations support consuming a Mediterranean diet as an effective way to reduce the odds of developing CVD, there are disparities in the definition of this dietary pattern. In BMC Medicine’s 7th most highly accessed article of 2014, experts from across the globe outlined what constitutes a Mediterranean diet, how definitions vary, and ways to study its beneficial effects in a forum article.

Yoghurt-cropped-300x267 2.1Probing further into the health benefits of specific dietary components, Frank Hu and colleagues from Harvard School of Public Health analyzed whether consuming different types of dairy products affects type 2 diabetes risk. In a study of three large US cohorts and an updated meta-analysis, the authors revealed that increased yogurt consumption, but not total dairy intake, is linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, suggesting that yogurt could have a protective effect. Hu and colleagues’ article was accessed over 14,900 times, making it BMC Medicine’s third most read article of 2014.

Predicting complications in pregnancy

BMC Medicine’s fourth most highly accessed article of 2014, with over 14,800 views, reported a new metabolic profiling approach for predicting perinatal complications. In a research article, Hector Keunand colleagues showed that urinary metabolites collected in early pregnancy are associated with increased risk of preterm birth and fetal growth restriction, the two complications of pregnancy that carry the highest risk of morbidity and mortality. Keun and colleagues’ findings indicate that metabolic profiling could be used as a non-invasive approach to predict those at risk of adverse pregnancy outcome so that targeted interventions can be given.

Probing deeper into the causes of perinatal complications, Gerlinde Metz and colleagues demonstratedthat a family history of stress could be linked to preterm birth in BMC Medicine’s 8th most accessed article of 2014. In a study carried out in mice across three generations, the authors showed that markers of preterm birth are elevated in the daughters and granddaughters of mice exposed to stress. These findings provide insights into the causes of perterm birth and, together with the results of Keun and colleagues’ study, offer new options for predicting complications in pregnancy.

We are pleased to see research, review and commentary articles covering a broad range of topics in our most read articles over the last year. Here is the full list of BMC Medicine’s top 10 most highly accessed articles published in 2014.

* Information about accesses is based on direct visits to BMC Medicine’s homepage, and the accesses are accurate as of January 1st 2015.

BMC Medicine’s top 10 most highly accessed articles published in 2014

Review Transmission dynamics and control of Ebola virus disease (EVD): a review Gerardo Chowell, Hiroshi Nishiura BMC Medicine 2014, 12:196 (10 October 2014) – 31,304 accesses

Commentary Electronic cigarettes have a potential for huge public health benefitPeter Hajek BMC Medicine 2014, 12:225 (9 December 2014)  15,081 accesses

Research article Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis Mu Chen, Qi Sun, Edward Giovannucci, Dariush Mozaffarian, JoAnn E Manson, Walter C Willett, Frank B Hu BMC Medicine 2014, 12:215 (25 November 2014) – 14,968 accesses

Research article Urinary metabolic profiles in early pregnancy are associated with preterm birth and fetal growth restriction in the Rhea mother–child cohort study Léa Maitre, Eleni Fthenou, Toby Athersuch, Muireann Coen, Mireille B Toledano, Elaine Holmes, Manolis Kogevinas, Leda Chatzi, Hector C Keun BMC Medicine 2014, 12:110 (11 July 2014) – 14,835 accesses

Research article Estimating the returns to UK publicly funded cancer-related research in terms of the net value of improved health outcomes Matthew Glover, Martin Buxton, Susan Guthrie, Stephen Hanney, Alexandra Pollitt, Jonathan Grant BMC Medicine 2014, 12:99 (16 June 2014) – 13,500 accesses

Research article Risk of violence from the man involved in the pregnancy after receiving or being denied an abortion Sarah Roberts, M Biggs, Karuna S Chibber, Heather Gould, Corinne H Rocca, Diana Foster BMC Medicine 2014, 12:144 (29 September 2014) – 13,295 accesses

Forum Definitions and potential health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: views from experts around the world Antonia Trichopoulou, Miguel A Martínez-González, Tammy YN Tong, Nita G Forouhi, Shweta Khandelwal, Dorairaj Prabhakaran, Dariush Mozaffarian, Michel de LorgerilBMC Medicine 2014, 12:112 (24 July 2014) – 13,055 accesses

Research article Ancestral exposure to stress epigenetically programs preterm birth risk and adverse maternal and newborn outcomes Youli Yao, Alexandra M Robinson, Fabiola Zucchi, Jerrah C Robbins, Olena Babenko, Olga Kovalchuk, Igor Kovalchuk, David M Olson, Gerlinde Metz BMC Medicine 2014, 12:121 (7 August 2014) – 12,867 accesses

Research article Unintended effects of statins from observational studies in the general population: systematic review and meta-analysis Ana Macedo, Fiona Taylor, Juan P Casas, Alma Adler, David Prieto-Merino, Shah Ebrahim BMC Medicine 2014, 12:51 (22 March 2014) – 12,725 accesses

Research article Spousal diabetes as a diabetes risk factor: A systematic review and meta-analysis Aaron Leong, Elham Rahme, Kaberi Dasgupta BMC Medicine 2014, 12:12 (24 January 2014) – 10,588 accesses

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2014 median turnover times: initial decision three days; decision after peer review 39 days

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