public health 127 (2013) 500
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
Public Health journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/puhe
Book Review Oxford handbook of epidemiology for clinicians, Helen Ward, Mireille B. Toledano, Gavin Shaddick, Bethan Davies, Paul Elliott, Oxford University Press (2012). 416 pp., ISBN 9780-19-852988-0 When they leave medical school many of those headed for a clinical career don’t realise that epidemiology underpins a lot of what they’re going to be doing for the next 40 years. It’s the basis of diagnosis, and provides the methods to evaluate the effectiveness of what you’re doing to patients. However, at Imperial College, London, where most of the authors of this book are based, they can hardly have failed to grasp this. This is the latest in the “Oxford Handbooks” series and, notwithstanding the demise of the white coat pocket in the UK, it’s still a handy sized volume that can be carted about without too much strain on the back. Despite its diminutive size (just over half an inch thick) it stretches to nearly 400 pages. Written by practicing epidemiologists and statisticians it covers the essentials of both methodological and systematic epidemiology that underpin clinical medicine. The book is in four sections. The first section covers the use of epidemiology in the clinic, and takes the reader through the diagnostic process, management decisions, communicating risk and health promotion (illustrated with practical examples relating to smoking, alcohol, exercise and diet). Section two covers evidence based practice, with chapters on finding and summarising evidence, preventative medicine and screening, and evaluating clinical practice. This is firmly rooted in UK and NHS contexts but, given that this is the best health service in the world, there’s no harm in that, and others outside the UK may benefit from it.
Section three is the core section on epidemiological and statistical methods, although these are mentioned in earlier sections. As well as chapters on types of study it covers sources of data (again referenced to the UK) and contains a useful reference section on statistical techniques. The last section is about the epidemiology of common diseases, and is most welcome. I know of no other book currently in publication (or, indeed, published in the last twenty years) which gives the descriptive epidemiology of common diseases in this fashion. In the space allocated it cannot be comprehensive, but a medical student or junior doctor equipped with the knowledge contained in this section alone will outshine his or her peers. The book is formatted so that new topics appear at the top of a new page, most commonly the left, making it easy to find and return to previously visited material. It’s well referenced to sources available on paper and the internet. It is written in a concise but clearly readable style, and is easy on the eye, as well as on the pocket. I’d recommend it as core reading for any medical student or junior doctor, but predict that it will find a wider audience.
S. George, Reader in Public Health University of Southampton, UK E-mail address: [email protected]
Available online xxx 11 October 2012 0033-3506/$ e see front matter http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2012.10.003