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European Journal of Epidemiology

European Journal of Epidemiology  
File:European Journal of Epidemiology.jpg
Abbreviated title (ISO 4)
Eur. J. Epidemiol.
Discipline Epidemiology
Language English
Publication details
Publication history
Frequency Monthly
ISSN 0393-2990

The European Journal of Epidemiology is a peer-reviewed medical journal on the epidemiology of communicable and non-communicable diseases and their control. The editor in chief is Albert Hofman (Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)


Antiono Sanna, MD, was the founding editor of the journal. As a clinical microbiologist and professor in microbiology in Sienna and the Universita Catolica in Roma, Prof. Sanna was well versed in not only the field of microbiology, but also hygiene and public health. (Sanna 2003) His original vision of the journal, as the description suggests, was to create a forum with a purpose “beyond [an] original emphasis on communicable disease”. (Sanna 2003) Other past accomplishments of Prof. Sanna in scientific writing was direct the “L’giene Moderna”, a public health journal created in 1908. (Sanna 2003)

First Issue

The first issue of the European Journal of Epidemiology appeared in March 1985. The first journal particularly emphasized the epidemiology of infectious diseases, complete with 328 pages of abstracts, academic papers, and study results. (European Journal of Epidemiology 1985) Aside from academic material submitted by other professors and scientists, the journal featured a section to place announcements for upcoming symposia (in the “Back Matter” section usually). (EJE 1985) These symposia, such as “the Second International symposium”, gathered academics throughout Europe to discuss their own ideas and experimental findings. Sanna additionally decided to put an announcements segment where new publications regarding epidemiology, policy, and research written by contributing academics were advertised for purchase for the reader. Prof. Sanna probably intended for the Journal to become a conduit for intellectuals to exchange news and developments.

Starting in 1986, Prof. Sanna expanded the journal even further to draw feedback from his readers. He created a “letters to the editor” section that included scientific studies either relevant to a previous entry or a specific highlighted topic. Prof. Sanna also introduced a “comments” section and instructions to authors to encourage writing for the journal. The section showed guidelines on how entries should format their abstracts, references, figures, etc. in meticulous detail. A third expansion to the journal was the promotion of miscellaneous relevant classes and workshops, as well as an “erra carriage” section in 1989 to show any corrections a reader has submitted from the previous issue. (EJE 1989)

A possible explanation for these decisions is that they were reflections of Prof. Sanna’s own experiences and personality traits. In other words, the weighted emphasis on open feedback and submissions to the journal parallel his open nature with new academics; he historically organized other symposia of his own and was known to be very welcoming especially to younger intellectuals to gain fresh ideas. These additions perhaps reflect his nature as a professor with “organizational talents”. (Mandra et al. 1992)


Just as Prof. Sanna demonstrated during the 6 years he was editor-in-chief, all editors succeeding him made unique impressions on the European Journal of Epidemiology, adding to both the content and structure of the journal. Prof. Sanna’s “era” lasted for 6 years, from 1985 to 1992. During that time he set out to create a “forum” for academics. However, after his death in 1992, Prof. Carlo Chezzi inherited the position of editor-in-chief for 2 years (1992 to 1994). (Chezzi 1992) Chezzi’s era could be considered an extension of Sanna’s, considering that he did not set out to make too many changes to the journal. His main objective was to continue the legacy of the journal and maintain its popularity among academics. He mostly stabilized the growth of the journal; as a pupil of Dr. Sanna himself, Chezzi carried out Sanna’s vision.

Major changes to the journal came when Professor Claude Hannoun took over for 8 years from 1994 to 2002. During his time as editor-in-chief, Dr. Hannoun set out to change the direction of the journal; he sought articles that applied more to population health and non-communicable diseases. Moreover, he increased the number of publications from 10 to 12 issues a year, one for each month, and extended the distribution of the journal. (Hannoun 1994)

As Prof. Hannoun stepped down from the editor-in-chief position to editor emeritus, Professor Albert Hofman agreed to take over in 2002. He is a professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and the chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Prof. Claude is the current editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Epidemiology. (Sanna 2003) He decided to include more than just disease-related studies into the journal: he emphasized methodology and encouraged submissions on statistical analyses, experiment designs, and others of the sort. Another development during his time was the creation of joint division editing for the journal; the editing staff would concentrate their efforts on their subject of expertise. These editors were physicians that would concentrate in cancer, statistics, bacteriology, genetics, cardiology, respiratory, methodological, tropical disease, infectious disease, or virology. (Hofman 2003)


Overall, the European Journal of Epidemiology’s content shifted from a biomedical focus in the 1900s to lifestyle focus in the 2000s. According to Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, the definition of “biomedical” rapidly shifted definitions throughout the 1900s and 2000s in the scientific community and around the world. In general, biomedical theory focused on “applied” research, or research used to diagnose and treat hospital patients. (Krieger 2011) The United Kingdom’s Institute for Biomedical Science, founded in 1912, made clear distinctions between “applied” research for biomedical use, and “basic” research, claimed to be used for only the development of knowledge. (Krieger 2011) For example, the IBMS published the British Journal of Biomedical Sciences that focused on only “applied” research, featuring clinical trials as the main pith of the journal.

The international scientific community did not always concur with this normative definition; the European Journal of Epidemiology was no exception. The United States, when first creating the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1930, combined “basic” and “applied” research as equal components that made up biomedical research. The European Journal of Epidemiology, despite its name, did not follow the traditional UK definition. This could be due to the fact that the journal, although was meant to represent the scientific community around Europe, was written and influenced by the scientific community in Italy, where the journal is published. Prof. Antonio Sanna, the founding editor, commented on the definition of biomedical and how the traditional meaning did not align with his vision. He stated, “it is not possible to make a distinction between basic and clinical research, in that both are equally important”. (Mandras, et al. 1992)

While it was true that the journal reflected Sanna’s intentions on including “applied” and “basic” research, nuances in the subject matter included in the journal’s first issues and later issues drastically changed. Specifically in the 1980s, the majority of the journals content followed a reductionist model of biomedical research; at the time, scientists followed this generalist approach to research because they believed in understanding disease at a microscopic level (especially when observing organs) to apply findings to many different cases. (Krieger 2011) For example, one article in the 1985 issue, “Prevalence of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria and Comparison between Different Screening Methods for its Detection in Infants”, relied on urine samples of 441 children between the ages of 3 to 36 months to detect urinary tract infections. (Goossens 1985) Other studies in the 1985 issue focused on using cultures and vector borne studies, attesting to the fact that the journal at its inception geared towards readers with a scientific background.

Entering the 1990s and throughout the 2000s the journal shifted to a multifactorial approach to biomedical research, namely by including studies that researched how culture, countries, and lifestyles affected population health. During the 90s the scientific community considered biomedical research to have more of a focus on chemistry and biochemical processes. However, during this time Prof. Hannoun as editor-in-chief of the journal, decided to follow a lifestyle and biomedical approach, similar to Kreiger’s “web of causation” theory. (Kreiger 2011) This approach took into account risk factors of disease, social behavior, and how they interacted with disease. For example, one article in the 1995 issue titled “HIV-1, HIV-2, HTLV-I/II and STD among female prostitutes in Buenos Aires, Argentina” explored how much at risk prostitutes from different socioeconomic backgrounds were to sexually transmitted diseases, and whether or not these diseases were risk factors of other diseases. (Zapiola 1996) Consequentially, the consideration of risk factors and more diversified studies (coming from Argentina, Paris, Spain, etc) signified Prof. Hannoun’s success in shifting the journal’s focus to non-communicable diseases and to the international scientific community.


The European Journal of Epidemiology was ranked 1009th of the most impactful journals worldwide in 2012. (SCImago 2007) In the category of Journals in Public, Environmental, and Occupational Health, the journal ranked 8th of 157. (SCImago 2007) To compare its impact worldwide, the journal was measured with the SJR indicator. As defined by the Thomson Reuters site,

“The SJR indicator measures the scientific influence of the average article in a journal, it expresses how central to the global scientific discussion an average article of the journal is. Cites per Doc. (2y) measures the scientific impact of an average article published in the journal, it is computed using the same formula that journal impact factor ™” -SCImago Online

The journal’s SJR in 2012 was 1.946, a drastic increase to its SJR since 1999 [see Figure 1]. Aside from its ranking, the increasing participation in the journal attests to its growing influence in the scientific community. In 2012 the journal measured to contain 38.02 percent of articles that involved the collaboration of international writers and scientists [See Figure 2]. (SCImago 2007) In terms of publications, the top five countries that have cited the journal are Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, Spain, and France, illustrating the journals widening distribution.

Over time, the journal’s trends in publication reveal two notable characteristics [see Figure 3]. First, the journal, although each year grew in numbers of publications and content, did not publish any issues in 2002. (Thomas Reuters 2013) This gap may be due to the changes in leadership, from Professor Hannoun to Professor Hofman, during that year. Second, the journal’s publications in 2006 more than tripled compared to all other years before and after, from around 200 to 650 published items. (Thomas Reuters 2013) This may be a result of the European Congress of Epidemiology 2006’s the Board of the European Epidemiology Federation of the International Epidemiological Federation of the International Epidemiological Association’s (IEA-EEF) Congress, an international meeting to exchange ideas at Utrecht University through keynote sessions and meetings. (Geert et al. 2006) The surge in scientists in the Netherlands encouraged numerous abstract submissions and peer review evaluations to publish. (Geert et al. 2006) Aside from those two anomalies, the journal has had a leveled number of publications, averaging at 200 per issue. Despite that, the number of citations has grown exponentially [see Figure 3].


  • Chezzi, Carlo. Editorial Note. European Journal of Epidemiology 8: 2, 1992. Springer Online. Netherlands: Kluwar Academic Publishers, 1992. Web. Accessed 11 December 2013.
  • European Journal of Epidemiology. Published by Springer.
  • "European Journal of Epidemiology." Web of Science. Thomson Reuters, 2013. Web. 19 December 2013.
  • Hannoun, Claude. Editorial. European Journal of Epidemiology 10: 1,1994. p. 1. Springer. Web. Accessed 19 December 2013.
  • Hofman, Albert. Editorial: A new year and a new European Journal of Epidemiology. European Journal of Epidemiology 18: 1, 2003. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. Web. Accessed 19 December 2013.
  • Kreiger, Nancy. Epidemiology and the People’s Health: Theory and Context. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.
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  • Zapiola, I., S. Salomone, A. Alvarez, M. C. Scolastico, R.A. Koessel, J. Lemus, C. Wainstein, and G. Muchinik. “HIV-1, HIV-2, HTLV-I/II and STD among Female Prostitutes in Buenos Aires, Argentina”. European Journal of Epidemiology 12, 1, 1996, pp. 27-31. Springer 2013. Accessed 19 December 2013.