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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH (Cook County Department of Public Health)
Description: This book describes the U.S. health system using a structured presentation of 72 independent papers, some classic and others new contributions to the literature. This update represents important changes from the previous edition published in 2003.
Purpose: According to the authors, the "objectives of this new edition are to highlight the major accomplishments and limitations in health, identify and analyze the major determinants of health, and suggest interventions to positively impact the determinants of health." This collection of articles does a more than reasonable job of covering a wide range of national health issues. The 72 articles are structured into 18 chapters with overview comments, making the material much more accessible to students and providing context for the material.
Audience: With its collection of articles from the public health literature, this book is particularly valuable to undergraduate and master's level students who are not steeped in the literature. Practitioners also will find it useful, since it gathers critical points of view from the literature in a single book and serves as an excellent starting point to explore further. Making it more valuable are the insights and comments of two leading health scholars.
Features: The preface outlines the framework used to structure the chapters of the book. The authors attempt to describe the determinants of health, discussing the social, environmental, and medical determinants. They also describe the medical care system and its determinants, compared to the social determinants of health. A highlight is the introductory discussion in each chapter that places its readings in a historical and national context. One improvement for future editions might be a short annotated reference list of readings not included in the book, but recommended for further reading.
Assessment: This book makes it easy for beginning students to have a collection of readings for the backbone of a survey course, or as a supplement to other overview books. The structured organization to address the determinants of health is a major improvement over previous editions. This new edition will be a useful tool in the classroom.