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From The CriticsReviewer: Erin M Reynolds, BA, BS, MPH, PhD (University of Southern Indiana)
Description: This is an excellent starter book for students interested in pursuing the field of epidemiology, providing a clear and concise overview of its many aspects. The previous edition was published in 2006.
Purpose: Students with little to no background in epidemiology or biostatistics are the intended audience. The book provides an expanded background in areas that are not normally covered in the more statistical epidemiological texts. Having read many dry textbooks in this area, I think the author's goal of attempting to liven up an introductory book is a valid one. This excellent book succeeds in meeting the author's goal of making epidemiology more accessible for beginners.
Audience: As an introductory book, it is suitable for the general student audience and does not require advanced knowledge in statistics and biology. The author has a long history of working in the field of epidemiology, especially cancer epidemiology, and has both clinical and teaching experience.
Features: The book covers a broad range of topics, from the foundations and history of epidemiology to various study designs and, finally, to the practical uses of epidemiology in the field and clinical practice. I particularly enjoyed the section on the history of epidemiology. Often introductory books only cover John Snow and Edward Jenner in a short piece on the history of the field, but this book includes a brief overview of epidemiology, hitting on many of the important contributors to the field. The chapters on design strategies and statistical methods for descriptive and analytic epidemiology provide excellent introductions to the common study designs and methods of statistical analysis. The formulas are easy to follow and appropriate diagrams help in understanding the difficult concepts (like direct and indirect standardization). The tables with the strengths and weaknesses of the various study designs will be particularly helpful to students. An interesting set of case studies in the appendix provide a more in-depth study of six different epidemiologic situations. The study questions at the end of each chapter are in the form of short answer/essay which will be more time consuming for students than the normal multiple choice questions. However, the questions cover relevant concepts and if students take the time to complete them, they will gain a good understanding of the material.
Assessment: This is an excellent introduction to epidemiology. It provides a more complete overview than the book currently used in my introductory level epidemiology course, Epidemiology, 4th edition (Elsevier, 2008). With the fifth edition, the author has added many sections that enrich the book and provide a more in-depth coverage of the field.