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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michele A Kelley, ScD, MSW, MA (University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health)
Description: This book defines the meaning and significance of community level approaches to population health improvement. Furthermore, it offers specific strategies and frameworks for understanding and evaluating these strategies, with examples across a variety of important public health issues and priorities.
Purpose: The purpose is to present evidence-supported and culturally relevant strategies for community health improvement. The authors make the case that access to clinical care is necessary but not sufficient, and that to attain sustainable gains in health, strategies at multiples levels are needed. This book is focused on prevention at the community level. It is valuable as a single source of well documented information and strategies that address some of the most pressing issues that manifest as health inequities. In this regard, the book is successful as a basic first reference for pubic health practitioners, faculty, and students.
Audience: Intended to provide an overview of concepts and strategies for community prevention, it is written at a basic level to be useful for students, novice or advanced practitioners, scientists and policy analysts. This is one of the best single source documents on the state of community prevention in public health. The editors and authors are well known in their fields, and the organization of the book and index make the information easy to access and use, whether in the classroom or in the field.
Features: Covering the meaning and significance of community prevention, the book provides rich examples of critical aspects of prevention strategies and frameworks and illustrations of state-of-the-art initiatives and action at the local level. One of the most helpful tools is the use of diagrams and figures to illustrate prevention concepts and strategies. For example, the Cultural Proficiency Continuum and the Wheel of Community Organizing summarize the text and make the concepts easy to understand and apply. A limitation is that the concept of community well-being could be better supported in the definition of terms. The field of community psychology, closely related to public health, has a rich literature on this topic and the book could have benefited by incorporating some more of the ideas and references from that field.
Assessment: This book successfully makes the case that prevention is primary, while providing readers with definitions, concepts, and real world applications. It fills a gap in public health texts by focusing on the community level and emphasizing applications to public health practice. It has great value for practitioners and those who teach practice. However, it is not a comprehensive review of emerging paradigms for intervention science, although that is not the goal of the book. [See, for example, Handbook of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Raczynski and DiClemente (Springer, 1999).] In terms of augmenting the meaning of community well-being, the book by community psychologist Isaac Prilleltensky has more conceptual clarity and offers more on organizational strategies within communities. [Promoting Well-Being: Linking Personal, Organizational, and Community Change (John Wiley & Sons, 2006).] The well known work of this author and scholar was not cited.