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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Daniel Bustillos, JD, PhD (Saint Louis University)
Description: This general introduction to ethical issues pertinent to the field of epidemiology is much needed in this rapidly changing field and the book provides a timely update to the 1999 edition.
Purpose: In addition to a general introduction, the book provides an in-depth look at the practical and theoretical ethical issues that most concern epidemiologists and practitioners in fields related to epidemiology.
Audience: It is aimed at students, scholars, and practitioners of epidemiology. The authors are well known and respected contributors to this and other fields. The multidisciplinary makeup of the contributors bolsters their credibility in the interdisciplinary field of public health ethics.
Features: The contributors are a diverse group of scholars and practitioners who cover several foundational topics such as the moral basis for public health ethics and discuss how this differs from other applied ethics fields, such as medical ethics. Chapters take an in-depth look at certain ethical provinces within a more general public health ethics such as the consequentialist balancing of risks versus benefits and the special problems raised by epidemiological research on human subjects. The book is most successful as a general textbook for students of the ethics of epidemiology and for those who teach this oft-neglected subject in schools of public health. Of special interest for professors is the final chapter which argues persuasively for a robust curriculum of the ethics of epidemiology and gives concrete examples.
Assessment: This much needed update is a successful and serious addition to the discourse of public health ethics. Textbooks and narrower treatises abound in this area, but many suffer from a general thinness of discussion and philosophical sophistication on the topics they choose to cover. This book provides rigorous ethical analysis coupled with an accessible writing style and tone so as not to alienate uninitiated readers.