In the past thirty years epidemiology has matured from a fledging scientific field into a vibrant discipline that brings together the biological and social sciences, and in doing so draws upon disciplines ranging from statistics and survey sampling to the philosophy of science. These areas of knowledge have converged into a modern theory of epidemiology that has been slow to penetrate into textbooks, particularly at the introductory level. Epidemiology: An Introduction closes the gap. It begins with a brief, lucid discussion of causal thinking and causal inference and then takes the reader through the elements of epidemiology, focusing on measures of disease occurrence and causal effects. With these building blocks in place, the reader learns how to design, analyze and interpret epidemiologic research studies, and how to deal with the fundamental problems that epidemiologists face, including confounding, the role of chance, and the exploration of interactions. All these topics are layered on the foundation of basic principles presented in simple language, with numerous examples and questions for further thought.
"This is an excellent introduction to the principles and concepts of epidemiology. In a little over 200 pages Rothman covers all the essential topics for an introductory graduate level course in epidemiology." --European Journal of Public Health
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: James C. Torner, MS, PhD (University of Iowa College of Public Health) Description: This is thought-provoking introductory book that can provide a foundation for epidemiology students and academicians. More than a reiteration of epidemiology design and methods, it is a commentary on epidemiological concepts and how the methods are applied. The first edition was published in 2002. New to this edition are chapters on historical aspects of epidemiology and infectious disease epidemiology and an expansion of measurement errors and biases. Purpose: The goal is to add understanding and critical thinking to the foundations of epidemiology. Because the methodology of epidemiology has implications, the author describes the context of design and analytical issues in causation, analytical conclusions, and applications. Audience: It appears to me that the author strives to educate readers beyond the basic concepts and methods. Hence, although not stated, students who want more than just how to do epidemiology, instead striving to understand what epidemiology does, will enjoy this book. It is designed to stimulate. The author is a recognized scholar in epidemiology and wants to provide ideas as a forum for discussion, which he continues to do with this edition. Features: The book lays a foundation in the first few chapters with key epidemiology concepts, the supporting historical developments, and understanding of causation. The next section focuses on measurement and design in epidemiological studies. A chapter on infectious disease epidemiology describes the methods and modeling of infectious diseases. The next section focuses on bias identification and then bias control. The subsequent chapters focus on interpreting interactions and regression modeling. The book finishes with an application to clinical epidemiology. The flow between chapters is traditional, yet unique to thought development. The book does not go into depth on analytical methods, but other books might be supportive. Assessment: Students and scholars who pursue epidemiology as a career should find this book a useful addition to their library. It does not present different basic concepts and methods than other introductory books do, but it does provide insights into how they developed and should be interpreted. This is a worthwhile new edition.
Kenneth J. Rothman, DrPH, is a Distinguished Fellow at RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. He is also Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Medicine at Boston University. His research interests in epidemiology have spanned a wide range of health problems, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurologic disease, birth defects, injuries, environmental exposures, and drug epidemiology, but his main career focus has been the development and teaching of the concepts and methods of epidemiologic research.