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From The CriticsReviewer: Jeanne B Hewitt, PhD, RN (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Description: This book focuses on the British system of public health and ways in which nurses and public health practitioners ideally function in it.
Purpose: According to the authors, this book is intended to serve as a practical guide for nurses and public health practitioners to aid in the development of public health skills in various contexts. These are worthwhile objectives that are met for those in the British public health system.
Audience: Written primarily for students, the book also could serve as a tool for orientation for practitioners new to public health. According to the authors, the target audiences are nurses and public health practitioners. The focus on nurses generically as a target audience (rather than district/public health nurses) dilutes the effectiveness of the book.
Features: This edited book is well organized and written. The authors effectively use figures, tables, case studies, and a glossary to assist readers' understanding and application of concepts and skills. They emphasize practical skills, including an understanding of the basic principles of epidemiology and communication and the development of partnerships. Although this book is intended for public health as practiced in Great Britain, the summary of key skills and many of the models used are broadly applicable. For other public health systems (e.g., the United States), the book in its entirety would be most suitable as an adjunct textbook for instructors. However, the first two sections, which address assessment and management of public health needs, are outstanding and could be essential reading in any public health nursing program. These sections summarize basic epidemiology, including surveillance (chapter 3) and skills in collaboration (chapter 4), partnership building (chapters 5 and 6), and communication (chapter 7). The chapter on epidemiology is particularly noteworthy in its succinct and application-oriented coverage of what many find is difficult material to grasp. The chapters on collaboration and partnership building tackle skills that are particularly nebulous for neophyte public health practitioners. The authors are to be commended for summarizing key features and strategies for putting these skills into practice. The book has a couple of drawbacks. First, it uses a narrow definition of the physical environment as a determinant of health and does not address any physical determinant of health. Second, it places a large emphasis on clinical aspects, particularly in sections 3 and 4, which cover policy, quality and risk management, and program planning from a perspective that is limited in its usefulness to non-British systems of public health.
Assessment: The book fills a niche in public health practice literature, especially the first two sections, which are broadly applicable and particularly helpful.