Reviewer: Cristanna M. Cook, Ph.D(Husson College)
Description: This annual review presents articles on epidemiology and biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, public health practice, social ecology, and health services, all areas that are of importance today in the field of public health. It contains an interesting review of the environmental forces leading to obesity.
Purpose: Since this is an annual review, the purpose is to present articles that are representative of the most current issues in public health. The articles do address important current issues, although there should be more justification for the subjects chosen. The articles correspond to the major concentrations found in most accredited schools of public health: epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, health policy, health administration, and maternal and child health. The mini-symposium on obesity seems relevant especially in light of Walter Willett's new book on the food pyramid, Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
Audience: In general, because the articles are interesting to read and possess limited statistical jargon, this is a good book for the layperson. However, there is enough of interest for the student and the professional as well.
Features: In an era of rising health costs irrespective of managed care, the article on managed care in workers' compensation plans shows that cost reduction activity may actually lead to increased overall cost if the patient's treatment includes stop-gap measures instead of a comprehensive care plan. This is one of the most important points in health economics today. An article on consumer report cards makes the important point that there is a lot more work to do to inform consumers of the attributes they might use to assess quality of medical care. It appears that consumers do not respond to the consumer report cards, partly because they do not understand the attributes used by social scientists to assess quality of care.
Assessment: The book is very useful and provides content on important current issues. As this is a compilation of articles, it is hard to compare it to prominent books in the field. It is as good as any similarly structured book on the market.