Reviewer: Kaye L. Crampton, MALS (Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center)
Description: This is a 4-volume reference work detailing approximately 800 children's health issues with over 350 illustrations. Each article follows a standardized format, including a definition, description, treatment, risks, etc. This is an update of the first edition published in 2005.
Purpose: The purpose is "to inform and educate readers about the wide variety of topics related to children's health." While some might feel that a print work of this magnitude is unnecessary in today's world of online health information, this encyclopedia gathers overviews of child health topics from infancy through adolescence into one place, all of which have been reviewed by MDs and RNs for currency and accuracy. Novice searchers are not always able to find this caliber of information on the Internet. The editor has met her objectives in providing an easy-to-use, reliable reference work that addresses a broad scope of child health topics.
Audience: This is intended for parents, teachers, and child care professionals who need fast and accurate information about the children in their lives. In the editor's words, the work is a "one-stop source for medical information" and attempts to be more readable by avoiding medical jargon. The contributing writers, all healthcare professionals, are certainly credible and well qualified.
Features: The strength of the encyclopedia is in its scope, reliability, and ease of use. Like most encyclopedias, it gives a good overview of each topic without an overwhelming amount of detail. Special features include the "parental concerns" section that accompanies every article and the child development guidelines used by professionals. A major shortcoming is the high reading level of the work, averaging 11th grade and higher. Many healthcare facilities prefer to provide health information materials at about a 6th grade level to increase patient understanding.
Assessment: This is a well-written and comprehensive reference. In places where the Internet is not readily available, or where providing a basic overview of reliable health information is important, it is a viable alternative. However, weigh these features against the cost and the high reading level when considering this purchase.