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From The CriticsReviewer: Santa Makstenieks, MD (Concordia University of Wisconsin)
Description: This illustrated book helps to review and visualize disease processes and diseased tissues resulting from some common disorders.
Purpose: The goal is "to build confidence and improve patient care." The book indeed is richly illustrated and offers easy-to-understand but rather limited and superficial information on diseases, with no information on treatment and care procedures. This very visual book is a useful supplement to in-depth studies of disease processes.
Audience: The opening two pages is a series of cartoons which apparently are meant to give an introduction to the book but do not help to determine the target audience. Judging from the content, it is appropriate for nursing students who may appreciate another viewpoint on some of the diseases they have to understand. The nine authors and contributors are nurse educators and nurse practitioners.
Features: Diseases are organized by body system and presented on 1 to 2 pages in such a way that the information can be seen without flipping pages. Each topic starts with a concise description of the disease, including many synonyms of the condition, followed by color-coded icons, each of which covers events or disorders which lead to the disease, major signs and symptoms, age-related features, risk factors, and mnemonics. Color-coding is effective and allows for easy orientation on a very busy page. Chapters end with varied review exercises — fill-in, identification, rebus, unscrambling, matching. In all, the book covers 111 common diseases, and although this is just a fraction of the information nurses need to know, it is a good overview before or after reviewing a pathology textbook. Large full-color illustrations of normal and abnormal organs and tissues help to effectively visualize the disease process. Photographs of pathologic organs are included for many of the topics. In some cases, pathogenesis is offered in a form of a cartoon or a flowchart. There are some limitations. At times, information represented by the icons overlaps, there are some spelling and content mistakes, and the depth of discussion varies. Many of the cartoons seem inadequately large and irrelevant to the topic and readers may find them distracting and confusing. The cartoons are meant to provide a fun way of studying diseases; however, some irreverence toward the diseased is promulgated by this kind of presentation. That said, I have to admit that some of them are rather clever.
Assessment: This is an appropriate book for an introduction before, or a summary after, studying a more in-depth nursing textbook, such as Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States, 7th edition, Porth (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004). I am particularly impressed by the computer graphics which serve as a great review of normal and pathologic anatomy. This book can be viewed as a collection of illustrated flashcards on selected common human disorders. It could be enhanced by excluding the many irrelevant cartoons, improving flowcharts, and adding some more detail, precision, and consistency to the descriptions of the diseases.