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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Howard M. Kravitz, DO, MPH (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This edited, multiauthored book on social epidemiology is the first of its kind in which the major social factors that influence health outcomes are dealt with systematically. The reader is introduced to the major social forces and concepts that undoubtedly play a role in maintaining health and preventing disease. Collectively, the contributors examine the social context in which behavioral risk factors occur, and identify and describe a range of social conditions that may influence a broad range of health outcomes.
Purpose: The editors have attempted to define, in chapters written by internationally renowned social epidemiologists, this newly recognized area of epidemiology. The main objective is to provide the reader with a guide to the major social conditions of importance and to new approaches in statistics, physiology, public policy, and social psychology; this endeavor has been largely successful.
Audience: The audience is identified broadly, ranging from graduate student (I would include medical and nursing students) to active investigator. It should appeal to a wide range of prospective readers. Psychiatrists, practitioners in primary care, psychologists, policy analysts and others in public health, in addition to epidemiologists and medical sociologists, should find something of interest in this up-to-date text.
Features: The book is divided into five parts: socioeconomic inequities and the impact of discrimination on health; the work environment and labor market's relationship to health status; the role of community and social relations in health; psychological factors associated with health outcomes; and a potpourri of multidisciplinary issues pertinent to social epidemiology. Useful tables and figures complement the text, the references are recent, and the diversity of content minimizes overlap between chapters.
Assessment: As an academic psychiatrist-epidemiologist, I have long recognized the importance of psychosocial factors in the onset and course of psychiatric illness and in the response to therapeutic interventions. With medicine becoming more population-based and less individual-oriented, future practitioners must be schooled in the social conditions and behavioral risk factors relevant to disease and its prevention. In providing a resource that explicates the social determinants of illness and helps the reader to understand the impact of social organization and structure on health and access to healthcare, the editors make this book a valuable contribution to the literature on psychosocial epidemiology. The listed price is a little high but competitive in today's book market.