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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Matthew Rysavy, MD, PhD (University of Iowa College of Public Health)
Description: Part of the Oxford Handbook series, this book is intended for use by healthcare professionals interested in applying epidemiological concepts in clinical practice. It is the appropriate size to fit into the pocket of a clinician's white coat and is designed for quick referencing with bullet-point topic summaries and a comprehensive glossary.
Purpose: With this book, the authors aim to assist clinicians in the interpretation and application of research evidence in their everyday clinical routines. The book is designed for clinicians unfamiliar with epidemiological concepts and provides an overview of relevant topics. It does not offer the depth or detail found in epidemiology textbooks, but provides sufficient information to serve as a reference.
Audience: The book is intended for clinicians interested in learning how basic epidemiological principles may be applied in their day-to-day work. The authors state that it is intended for students and junior doctors. However, anyone intending to better use research evidence in clinical practice may benefit from it.
Features: The first of the four sections serves to introduce basic epidemiological concepts, including the principles of risk, benefit, and disease frequency. Other sections provide an overview of important topics related to evidence-based clinical practice — including a listing of clinical research databases and methodologies to appraise scientific literature — and a more detailed look at epidemiological methods, including study designs and statistical concepts. The last pages of the book contain summaries of the epidemiology of common diseases. Examples relevant to clinical settings are provided throughout. Of note, the book includes an important section on how to best discuss research evidence with patients. However, many other examples are specific to policies and practices in the U.K.'s National Health Service, limiting their relevance outside of that country.
Assessment: As a hybrid between an introduction to epidemiology and a quick reference for use in clinical decision-making, this book provides a great deal of information in little space. As a quick reference for use in daily practice, it is unique. However, readers new to these concepts who desire a solid understanding of how and why to use research evidence in clinical practice may be better served by other introductory books, such as How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-based Medicine, 4th edition, Greenhalgh (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).