Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Meta-Anal. Aug 28, 2021; 9(4): 389-404
Published online Aug 28, 2021. doi: 10.13105/wjma.v9.i4.389
Trends in iron deficiency anemia research 2001-2020: A bibliometric analysis
John L Frater
John L Frater, Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63110, United States
Author contributions: The manuscript was conceived, designed, and written by Frater JL.
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Corresponding author: John L Frater, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Box 8118 St Louis, 3rd Floor, St. Louis, MO 63110, United States.
Received: January 31, 2021
Peer-review started: January 31, 2021
First decision: May 6, 2021
Revised: May 17, 2021
Accepted: July 12, 2021
Article in press: July 12, 2021
Published online: August 28, 2021

Iron deficiency anemia has a worldwide impact on individual health and national and international economies, with an estimated one-third of the world population being iron deficient.


To evaluate the iron deficiency literature published between 2001-2020 with an emphasis on: (1) Identification of collaborative research networks most active in this field; (2) Research topics of greatest importance; and (3) Analysis of the most-cited papers published between 2001-2020 and the most cited papers in 5-year intervals during this period to assess for emerging trends in research in this area.


A search of Clarivate Analytics World of Science Core Collection was performed for the topic “iron deficiency anemia”, limited to document type (article or review), language (English), and time span (2001-2020). The following data were extracted from these articles: Year of publication, journal, study design, country of first author, and number of citations. The metadata derived from the search were used to identify publication trends in iron deficiency anemia research and their distribution in countries/regions and institutions. Network visualization by VOSviewer (Leiden University) was performed to identify international collaborative groups and research hotspots.


The search identified 4828 publications. Three international collaborative networks were identified: United States, Canada, and India; Turkey, China, and Japan; and England and other European countries. Five research areas were hotspots: Epidemiologic aspects of iron deficiency anemia, biochemical aspects of iron deficiency anemia, clinical evaluation of causes of iron deficiency anemia, causes of iron deficiency anemia, and bioavailability of dietary iron. Subset analysis of the top-10 overall cited papers, and the top-10 cited papers for each 5-year increment beginning in 2001 showed that the largest number of highly cited papers were from the field of epidemiology, the smallest number from the field of bioavailability of dietary iron.


The literature on iron deficiency anemia has a high citation rate compared to studies of other topics using similar methodology and is heavily biased toward studies from the United States and epidemiologic studies.

Keywords: Iron deficiency anemia, Bibliometrics, VOSviewer, Trends

Core Tip: Iron deficiency is a common micronutrient deficiency with a worldwide impact. This bibliometric analysis was performed to analyze the literature on iron deficiency published between 2001-2020. Three international collaborative networks based in North America/India, Europe, and Asia were identified. There are 5 areas of greatest focus: Epidemiologic aspects of iron deficiency anemia, biochemical aspects of iron deficiency anemia, clinical evaluation of iron deficiency anemia, causes of iron deficiency anemia, and bioavailability of dietary iron. Evaluation of the papers published during this period identified epidemiology as the most cited area, and bioavailability of iron as the least cited.