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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Howard M. Kravitz, DO, MPH (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: The second edition of this textbook on drug therapy for the management of mental disorders follows closely the format and organization of the first edition, published in 1993. The text is written by the same four authors, who have integrated their extensive research and clinical experience to produce a clinically oriented book grounded in literature-based evidence.
Purpose: The authors observe that in the four years since the first edition, the continued rapid development of new psychopharmacotherapies necessitated this update. As in the first edition, their goals were to organize the literature so that the readers could assimilate this mass of information and apply it to developing logical treatment strategies. The authors are credible experts who are adept at meeting their goals.
Audience: The book is directed toward physicians, both residents and practitioners, primarily in psychiatry and family medicine. Others who may appreciate the content offered by the authors include psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals who are involved with patients taking psychotropic medications. I might add that general internists and neurologists also may find this a useful reference text.
Features: The layout of this new edition is a strength. The print appears larger, key sentences within paragraphs are bolded more often, and there seems to be more liberal use of bullets to highlight major points. Tables and charts summarize groups of studies in "box score" fashion, show dose regimens and side effects, and present other useful facts at a glance. Line figures illustrate pharmacokinetics and relapse rates. For the most part, these tables, charts, and figures enhance the readability. Except for figure 10.1, the authors did well to replace the awful appearing black-background figures. The authors attempted to diagram therapeutic recommendations as treatment algorithms; this venture was less successful. These roadmaps tend to be a bit too busy and overinclusive to be very informative.
Assessment: This remains a solid textbook on psychopharmacotherapeutics, now expanded by more than 100 pages and modified for DSM-IV. If you are watching your pennies, you may not need to purchase a new edition. The authors have been publishing updates covering the new agents, particularly antidepressants and antipsychotics. If the price is right, these updates might suffice for those who own the first edition. Also, some chapters in the second edition were revised more in form than substance. However, libraries need to be up-to-date and should have the newer edition, which incorporates all that was useful in the first edition. For the intended physician audience, residents and busy practitioners, this is a usable text. In a market that is glutted with psychopharmacology texts, both clinical and laboratory-based, this one may have its niche, which the authors hope to maintain by keeping current.