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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Caryn D Etkin, PhD, MPH (Rush University College of Nursing)
Description: This is a comprehensive introduction and overview of the key constructs of the broad field of interdisciplinary public health.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a comprehensive framework for planning and promoting public health interventions. The book's attention to diverse issues of global public health makes it a worthwhile contribution to the field. The addition of "thinking points" supports the author's challenge to readers to contemplate ways to promote public health.
Audience: The introduction points out that the book is part of a public health course at the university level and it does appear that the book is indeed intended for students who require an introduction to the broad concepts of public health, not individuals already engaged in public health practice.
Features: The two parts of the book are critical in addressing the many sides of public health. That is, with the division of the book into health promotion and research on health, readers see the importance of both perspectives. The authors present the reasons for engaging in health promotion and the need to research and evaluate any interventions and/or programs. As a researcher, rather than a practitioner, I found the sections on the different types of research and the need for evaluation to be comprehensive with helpful examples. The "thinking points" will be helpful to students and are an effective way to promote discussion in a classroom setting. However, the examples are dominated by ones from the U.K. (though I understand the authors are from the U.K.), which is unfortunate because there are many other helpful and diverse examples of public health programs. Focusing on the U.K. fails to provide a diverse and truly global perspective. In chapter 5, the authors fail to mention a key theory of personal behavior, social cognitive theory, and the descriptions of the noted theories are dated and incomplete. Also, in chapter 11 on evaluation, the authors do not mention a framework widely used in the U.S. to evaluate the effectiveness of public health interventions, RE-AIM. There are other frameworks and theories that are used in other parts of the world that are not mentioned here.
Assessment: This would be very useful as an introductory book for new public health students. I would envision it being used in conjunction with other books or perhaps with relevant journal articles accompanying it to provide further concrete real-life examples. It would be a helpful next step after students read Turnock's Public Health: What It Is and How It Works, 4th edition (Jones and Bartlett, 2008).