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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Robert K Shin, MD (University of Maryland School of Medicine)
Description: This is a valuable resource for patients with MS, their friends and family, and healthcare providers who work with them.
Purpose: Developments in the MS field have progressed rapidly over the past 15 to 20 years, making it difficult for patients with MS to keep up with all of the latest advances. It makes sense that a fourth edition of this book should be published, with valuable new information on natalizumab (Tysabri), pediatric MS, and epidemiology.
Audience: A variety of healthcare professionals, including nurses, physicians, therapists, social workers, and researchers, have contributed chapters in this book for MS patients. Overall, the quality of the information is very good. The chapters by Dr. Aronson ("The Epidemiology of Multiple Sclerosis - Who Gets MS and Why?") and Dr. Miller ("Considering Options for Managing Relapses and the Disease Course") are particularly excellent.
Features: The book is divided into four major sections, with 4 to 10 chapters in each section, covering topics ranging from alternative therapies, MS pathophysiology, sexual dysfunction, and navigating insurance and work issues. The breadth of subject matter and expertise are strengths of the book, but they also prove to be an organizational challenge. The book is not designed to be picked up and read from cover to cover. Rather, it is meant to be an encyclopedia or reference. Ideally, a patient or family member will turn to the book with a question, open the book to the relevant section and find the information he or she is seeking. For this sort of book, then, the table of contents, page markings, and index become critically important. The table of contents is adequate, but sometimes the titles of the chapters do not clearly express the information that they contain. For example, a patient with urinary symptoms might not realize that the topic is discussed in depth in the chapter entitled "Nursing Care to Enhance Wellness." Another unfortunate issue is that the index page numbers are more often than not inaccurate, typically being off by one or two pages. Another quirk is that the book prefers to use the brand name of medications (Tysabri), but the index defaults to the generic name (natalizumab) and provides a pronunciation guide for the generic name only. Also, the top of each page has the chapter title, but not the chapter number. As a result, when another chapter is referenced ("see Chapter 4"), there is no way to quickly flip back to that chapter by scanning the tops of the pages — the only way to find a chapter is to turn back to the table of contents. Perhaps this is a small issue, but due to the format of the book, readers are often referred from one chapter to another and adding chapter numbers would make a significant difference.
Assessment: Overall, the book meets its ambitious goal of providing the answers to the questions an MS patient or family member/friend would have, but I hope that in the future more attention is paid to the small details that will make this resource more user friendly.