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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Martha L Carvour, MD, PhD (University of Iowa College of Public Health)
Description: In only 230 pages, this book (a revision of the third edition of 2006) accomplishes efficiently what many similar books cannot. The author offers a practical, readable summary of the principles of evidence-based medicine for practicing physicians and physicians-in-training.
Purpose: The author aims to provide an accessible introduction to evidence-based medicine and a framework for evaluating the medical literature. She tightly adheres to these objectives, addressing the practical and pressing need for clinicians to read and understand clinical evidence. In a field full of dense methodological texts and frustrated learners, this represents both a worthy aim and a complex undertaking. The author successfully deconstructs what is complex to reveal what is relevant to her readers.
Audience: This is a commendable and practical introduction to the field of evidence-based medicine. Medical students, residents, and fellows will all benefit from the author's approach, and the book fits neatly in the white coat pocket, rendering it both a valuable and portable reference. Practicing physicians wishing to acquaint themselves with the developing field of evidence-based medicine and instructors searching for classroom resources also may want add this book to their professional libraries.
Features: The book successfully covers the basic, practical principles of evidence-based medicine. Although this book does not serve as a primary methodological discussion of study design and data analysis (nor was it intended to do so), readers will learn enough about both of these topics — tailored to the specific types of research most commonly encountered in the clinical literature (systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical trials, observational designs, etc.) — to enable a thoughtful review of the medical evidence. Importantly, the author also offers a primer for critical appraisal of the literature — that is, not just the details of study design but the skills required to think critically about it. Sections on economic analyses, qualitative outcomes, and complex interventions help to round out the book. Each section is readable and succinct. Summary tables and appendixes provide quick reference tools, although the number of illustrations is limited.
Assessment: In the rapidly evolving field of evidence-based medicine, this book is an updated yet solid introduction, which both medical practitioners and medical learners can read, understand, and appreciate. Few authors can present such complex and important information in such an efficient and palatable format. Here, Dr. Greenhalgh also expands upon previous editions to include worthwhile discussions of quality improvement research and studies of complex interventions, making this an excellent addition to any medical library.