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From The CriticsReviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)
Description: Although forensic psychiatrists are asked to testify in both civil and criminal cases involving a variety of psychiatric issues relating to the law, the vast majority of forensic expert work involves the writing of reports. This book addresses all aspects of these forensic psychiatric reports.
Purpose: Given the fact that a much greater proportion of forensic psychiatric work is based on written reports, the authors state the purpose of this book is to develop a "set of principles for writing the forensic report, taking into account the complexity and variability of report writing tasks."
Audience: Although useful for those learning how to write concise and effective forensic evaluations, the true value of this book lies in the way it can improve the skill and technique of report writing for even the most seasoned forensic practitioners.
Features: Divided into three main sections (principles of writing, structure and content, and special issues), this book addresses each aspect of the report, from preparation, draftsmanship, and structure to the incorporation of psychological testing and malingering. Chapters end with a brief conclusion section and current and relevant references. There are no appendixes, illustrations, or diagrams, but there are numerous tables and case examples for review.
Assessment: This book is unique in the field of forensic psychiatry. Previous discussions of report writing have generally been included as part of larger books on the practice of the subspecialty area (see Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, 2nd edition, Rosner (Hodder Arnold, 2004)). Given the importance of the written report for both writers and readers of these documents, dedicating an entire book to creating some guidelines and practices is a worthy goal. The case examples are helpful and although the book is stylistically drab, its contents more than make up for its shortcomings. It is a well-done work that should have a place of prominence in most forensic psychiatrists' offices.